Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is set to enter the 2022 season with uncertainty surrounding his future in the Bronx.
Judge has been the face of the franchise since Derek Jeter’s retirement, so the idea of him playing in any uniform other than pinstripes sounded crazy at first. Maybe not so much after all, as he heads into his final year of arbitration before free agency. Judge appeared on the “R2C2” podcast Thursday and said his future with the Yankees is still uncertain.
“That’s a loaded question,” Judge said when asked about a possible extension, via the New York Post. “You know, leading into this, especially coming up through the minor leagues and rookie ball, you want to be a free agent, test the market a little bit and see what’s out there. But that’s one thing, I’ve been lucky enough to play in the best organization out of all of them, so who wants to go anywhere else?
“If we get an extension done before the season starts, that’d be great. I’d be completely honored to wear pinstripes for a couple more years. But if it doesn’t happen and this is my last year [as a Yankee], I had a lot of great memories.”
Judge, 29, is set to earn $17 million this season, if/when it gets played. MLB and the MLBPA are currently negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and remain in a lockout. The two sides met again Thursday, but the meeting ended after 15 minutes without a deal.
For his next contract, whether it’s with the Yankees or another team, Judge figures to get anywhere from $30-40 million annually, the going rate for a player of his caliber. Judge is coming off his most productive and healthy season since 2017, when he burst on the scene with 52 home runs as a rookie.
Since then, Judge has suited up in just 390-of-546 games. He was back to his All-Star self in 2021, posting a .287/.373./.544 slash line with 39 homers, 98 RBIs and a 6.0 WAR in 148 games.
Building off the success of last season will be paramount for Judge, as he’ll leave the contract stuff up to others.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the last year or the first year, I’m gonna go out there and play my best and do what I need to do for this city and what I need to do for the team,” Judge said. “It’s all in God’s hands. It’s gonna work out the way it’s supposed to. That’s why I’ve got agents. I’ve got people taking care of that. I’m not even worried.”
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