Will Aaron Judge wear another uniform next season, trading in his pinstripes in free agency?
Yankees great Alex Rodriguez can see it.
In fact, he thinks there's a 50-50 shot that scenario comes to fruition this winter.
The former Yankees third baseman spoke to Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman on the New York Post's "The Show" podcast, weighing in on Judge's contract situation. Rodriguez made it clear that he believes Judge is a perfect fit in the Bronx, but after both parties failed to reach an extension before this season, he can absolutely envision another team swooping in and snatching the superstar, paying him quite a fortune in the process.
“This is a perfect storm,” Rodriguez explained. “The most iconic player in our game today—that’s lacking big, unique, iconic players—and the most iconic franchise in the world in the New York Yankees. There’s a marriage made in heaven, but they both gambled, and I think that it’s gonna cost the New York Yankees a fortune. And I handicap it that there’s about a 50 percent chance that he comes back to the Yankees.”
Only a 50 percent chance?
Judge turned down a lucrative offer from New York before Opening Day, betting on himself. That call has worked out thus far as Judge is in the middle of his best season in the big leagues, smacking 29 home runs through the first half of the season. He's been healthy, playing quality defense and producing offensively night after night, showing he's worth a gargantuan contract.
"The Yankee Judge situation is as compelling of a drama as you can write up," Rodriguez added. "On one end, you have a supreme athlete who is a world-class kid, New York proven, Madison Avenue friendly who rolled the dice and bet on himself. I love that he has that type of confidence. It also seems that his poise and maturity is at an apex. He really is answering every question perfectly, he's playing at a higher level than any other player in the big leagues and I think he is the most valuable player, not only on the field, but as a marketing tool for an empire like the New York Yankees."
Will New York dig deep enough into their pockets to get a deal done? Rodriguez has been through this process before, pointing out that if any team can afford Judge's true value, it's the Yankees.
If they don't, there will be other teams ready to pounce in free agency. Rodriguez mentioned the Giants and their hometown connection to Judge, the rival Red Sox and even the Cubs as possible landing spots for the superstar slugger.
While the odds of Judge staying are still up in the air, in Rodriguez's eyes, one thing is for certain: the Yankees won't be able to find another player like Judge that brings his kind of value to the franchise both on and off the field.
"Yes, the business will go on and the Yankees will always be the Yankees, but I don't think they'll find a player, since Derek Jeter, that connects to that fan base as much as Aaron Judge and more importantly, feeds the YES Network the star power that they so much need."
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