All-Star right fielder Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees did not come to an agreement on a contract extension ahead of the slugger’s self-imposed deadline of Opening Day.
General manager Brian Cashman said the team offered a seven-year, $213.5 million extension, which, paired with the $17 million it offered in arbitration this season, would have made the entire package just over $230 million.
“We were unsuccessful in concluding a multiyear pact,” Cashman said Friday before the Yankees’ season opener vs. the Boston Red Sox. “Obviously, our intent is to have Aaron Judge stay as a New York Yankee as we move forward, and I know that is his intent as well, which is a good thing. We’re going to be entering those efforts in a new arena, which would be at the end of the season when free agency starts, and maybe that will determine what the real market value would be, because we certainly couldn’t agree at this stage on a contract extension.”
The Yankees executive went on to reveal the figures of the offer, an unorthodox move for any team, stating it was “for transparency purposes.” Cashman said that the Yankees’ final offer was an eight-year deal, which included the final season of arbitration, in a number to be agreed upon between $17 million and $21 million, and seven years of free agency at $30.5 million per year.
In terms of characterizing the negotiations with Judge and his camp, Cashman described them as having “no animus” and refused to comment on whether Judge’s vaccination status against the coronavirus played any part.
“I don’t think it serves me or us or Aaron well to talk about anything that came up in negotiations. And I certainly can’t speak to anybody’s vaccination status because of the HIPAA laws. So I would just have to pass on that,” Cashman said. “It was really good, healthy dialogue that did not lead to a positive conclusion at this date. But it doesn’t mean that a conclusion in a positive way for the Yankees and Aaron Judge together in the future can’t happen. It’s just not going to happen right now.”
Cashman reiterated that was his message to Yankees fans who might be disappointed in their lack of an agreement on a contract extension with one of the game’s most popular players.
“Not now, but hopefully later, that would be my message,” he said.
Speaking earlier Friday, Judge deferred to Cashman when asked about his contract status with the team, reiterating that April 8 — the delayed start of the 2022 season for the Yankees — was the last day that he would engage in negotiations.
“I got a game to focus on right now. So if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’ll see you guys after the game and we’ll talk about that. I think we’ll have a better update after the game,” Judge said. “This is the deadline. If it doesn’t get done, then we’ll work on the one-year arbitration deal and move on from there. This is it. I don’t want to be a distraction during the year; we got so many things to focus on, you know, a lot of good things happening, and I don’t want this to be a distraction for the team all year. After a good series, a good month, more talks … a bad series, a bad month … ‘should’ve signed that extension’ or something like that.”
However, Cashman did not completely exclude the possibility of there being room for negotiations during the arbitration hearing, which he refused to say if it already had a predetermined date. Judge was unable to agree on a contract for the 2022 season after the 29-year-old filed for arbitration at $21 million and the club countered at $17 million.
“I think the expectation and anticipation as we move forward is, we’ll talk another day, and that day more likely would be at the conclusion of this season. But I don’t want to be put in a position here where I say, ‘Absolutely not,'” Cashman said. “I’m going to respect his position and I’m never going to rule out if the opportunity exists to revisit things over the course of time. He’s too good a player to be, from my end, to be stubborn and say, ‘No, we’re not going to talk anymore.’ If there’s something for either party to adjust on or listen to … I have done contract extensions in season in the past; they don’t happen much, but it has happened … I’m always open-minded to anything that makes sense for the franchise.”
Manager Aaron Boone said earlier in the day he was certain that whatever happened with Judge’s contract, it would not have any impact on the field, as Judge has repeatedly stated himself.
“He’s the ultimate teammate,” Boone said. “He’s probably the biggest leader in that room. And he’s an amazing player that wants to go out and be great and wants nothing more than to be a part of the championship club. And there’s no doubt in my mind, whatever the outcome is, nothing will change in the way Aaron goes about his business.
“I’ve seen some of Aaron’s comments, and I agree, it’ll get done or not. But I truly believe that it will not have an effect on him. He’s just got too solid of a makeup that it’s not going to be an issue.”
Said Judge: “Just getting into extension talks, that’s a blessing. I never thought in my life I’d be in that opportunity — it’s not something that’s guaranteed. Just the thought of even going down this route with the Yankees is something special. I know I was guaranteed this last year — it’s an arbitration year. I got one year to play, and contract extension stuff is nice, but I got bigger things to focus on.”
Aaron Judge will begin the 2022 season without a new contract.
Shortly before commencing Friday’s opening game against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the star outfielder turned down a long-term extension.
Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the team offered a seven-year, $213.5 million contract starting in 2023 along with their $17 million arbitration offer for 2022.
The contract would have given Judge the highest average annual salary of any position player in Yankees history, topping the $27.5 million Alex Rodriguez agreed to after the 2006 season.
Judge and the Yankees are unlikely to resume contract negotiations until after the season. However, they still must finalize an amount for this season.
As explained by The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Judge filed a $21 million salary for his final year of arbitration. However, a hearing won’t take place until June because of MLB’s winter lockout.
Judge will get paid in line with the $17 million filed by the Yankees. If an arbitrator sides with Judge, he’ll get paid the difference in interest. They could still agree on a one-year arrangement to avoid a hearing.
Per Adler, Cashman expressed hope of still extending Judge “not now, but hopefully later.”
Judge batted .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs last season, but the 6-foot-7, 282-pound slugger missed time in each of the previous three years. Another abbreviated season could derail his market value, especially since he turns 30 this moth. Yet Judge is undoubtedly one of the game’s premier players when healthy, and he could get paid as such on the open market next offseason.