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As Aaron Judge chases down Roger Maris’ American League home run record, it’s important to remember the Yankees star will be a free agent this offseason.
Judge is having arguably the best individual season in MLB history — especially when you consider he’s doing so clean — as he nears Maris’ home run record and the AL triple crown. Frankly, it’s the only season good enough to dethrone Shohei Ohtani as AL MVP.
But where do the Yankees stand on Judge?
Surely, Aaron Boone and Co. are enjoying the ride, but whether the end of their season comes after the World Series, or unfortunately before then, they will have to face the music of Judge’s impending free agency.
Aaron Judge free agency rumors: Yankees
It’s important to remember how we got here. First, the Yankees offered Judge around $215 million last offseason, a contract they deemed fair at the time. Judge turned that offer down — a risky decision to say the least given his injury history. Yet, here we are less than a year later, and Judge should make over $300 million easily, whether it’s with the Yankees or elsewhere.
Brian Cashman hasn’t committed to doling out that kind of money for a player who is north of 30 years old. Were he not coming off a record campaign, it would be tough to blame him.
Aaron Judge free agency rumors: Could he join a rival?
Judge would not comment on the possibility of joining the Boston Red Sox. Yankees fans didn’t take kindly to that question, which comes as Judge is chasing arguably the most sacred record in the sport, as Adam Weinrib of Yanks Go Yard outlined in a recent article:
“As Judge approaches Roger Maris’ American League home run record (and, some would say, the legitimate mark), there are possibly 10,000 questions you could ask him face-to-face that would be more interesting than, “Hey … how ’bout those Red Sox, huh?”
Judge is a “Yankee for Life,” as long as Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner treat him fairly. But even if they do not — and they might not — logic dictates he’s far more likely to defect to California, where “family is important” (and currently located).”
Leave it to the national media — us, in a way — to make something out of nothing. Getting a head start on the Judge free agency chase is understandable. Asking him prematurely about a team he hasn’t remotely been connected to feels like a stretch, though.
As for the Mets, Steve Cohen could and would offer Judge the money necessary to make the jump to Queens. But as Weinrib points out in his article, a flight home feels far more likely.
Aaron Judge free agency rumors: Most likely destination?
The San Francisco Giants remain the most logical threat to sign Judge away from the Yankees.
They have the money to spend, and represent a hometown move of sorts from Judge, who is a Linden, California, and grew up watching Barry Bonds hit baseballs in McCovey Cove. That storyline is just one of the reasons Judge doesn’t believe he’s breaking the MLB single-season home run record this year — despite his PED use, Bonds did that quite some time ago.
Judge isn’t reaching the 73 home run mark, at least not this year. Next season, he could have a chance to do so in a familiar setting.