MLB Free Agency: Which team will win the Aaron Judge Draft?

Bet on you kids.

Aaron Judge will be the most wanted player in the free agent market this offseason. After the Yankees slugger turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension in the spring, he had one of the best all-time seasons in baseball history. In the process, he likely earned over $100 million more than he was originally offered.

In the wake of the Yankees’ sweep at the hands of the Astros, attention now turns to the 62-home run man who could have thrown his final pinstripe explosions.

For those who might need a refresher on Judge’s ridiculous season as he carried a Yankees offense into the playoffs, here’s a refresher: Judge slashed .311 / .425 / .686 with 62 homers, 133 runs and 131 RBI, topping Roger Maris’ Yankees record of 61 homers and setting an American League record in the category.

Aaron Judge passes Roger Maris with 62nd home run

Aaron Judge passes Roger Maris with 62nd home run

Aaron Judge hit his 62nd homer this season to break the AL’s single-season record. Colin Cowherd steps in.

No major league player had hit the 60-home run mark in a season since 2001, when Barry Bonds set the single-season record (73). The feat is even more remarkable in today’s game, as evidenced by the 16 homer distance the judge had on second-place finisher Kyle Schwarber, who hit 46. It was the biggest gap in a only season between the top two home run hitters since Philadelphia. Jimmie Foxx led the majors by 17 homers in 1932.

Judge, who had seven more homers than the Detroit Tigers’ top four homers combined this year, became one of four players to record an OPS of at least 1,100, 60 homers, 130 runs and 130 runs. produced in one season. He lifted the Yankees offense in the streak, slashing .349/.502/.784 in the second half of the season. His slugging percentage was higher than the OPS of any qualified teammate after the All-Star break. Just mind-boggling stuff.

In what will likely be an MVP season, Judge led the majors in homers, runs, RBI, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and extra-base hits. He was worth 11.5 wins over substitution according to FanGraphs and 10.6 according to Baseball Reference, in both cases demolishing all other positional players. Manny Machado had the closest fWAR among position players, at 7.4. The judge’s only possible contender for American League MVP, Shohei Ohtani, had a combined offensive and throwing fWAR of 9.4 and a bWAR of 9.6.

As remarkable as Judge’s career-best numbers were this year, they weren’t far short of the formidable measures he put in place the previous season, suggesting his ability to sustain that success well into the near future. His expected batting average this year (.305) was actually lower than his mark from last year (.308). His expected basis weighted average has ranked in the top 4% of the majors each of the past five full seasons.

The athletic 6-foot-7 outfielder can also run for a guy his size, stealing 16 bases this year and ranking above average in right field and center field. Moreover, he has demonstrated his durability by playing over 300 games over the past two seasons.

Aaron Judge breaks AL HR all-time record

Aaron Judge breaks AL HR all-time record

Ben Verlander reacts to Aaron Judge hitting 62 home runs this season and what that means for the Yankees and MLB.

Judge decided against continuing contract talks with the Yankees once the 2022 season begins to avoid distractions, similar to how impending free agent Trea Turner did this year with the Dodgers.

Will Judge return to New York? It probably depends on how high the Yankees are.

Their initial offer would have paid the judge an average annual value of $30.5 million, slightly more than the $30.4 million a year Mookie Betts received when he signed a 12-year, $365 million extension. with the Dodgers in 2020. This deal was the second largest. in total value behind Mike Trout’s 12-year, $426.5 million deal signed in 2019, despite ranking 17th all-time in AAV.

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Judge initially countered the Yankees’ offer, hoping to be closer to Trout’s AAV (about $35.5 million a year), the highest ever for a positional player. . Not far behind is Carlos Correa, who signed a three-year, $105.3 million ($35.1 million per year) contract with the Twins, with opt-out options after each year.

But long-term agreements have also been handed out. Last year, Francisco Lindor signed for 10 years and $341 million, Fernando Tatis Jr. signed for 14 years and $340 million, and Corey Seager signed for 10 years for $325 million.

The judge will have to decide if he cares more about total value or AAV, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the 30-year-old command $36-38m a year for the next eight-10 years . This would give him the highest AAV among position players, provide long-term stability, and earn him well north of $300 million over the life of the contract. Would anyone be surprised to see Judge making around nine years and $342 million, or $38 million a year?

Will Aaron Judge re-sign with the Yankees?

Will Aaron Judge re-sign with the Yankees?

Verlander and Alex Curry discuss whether they think Aaron Judge will re-sign with the Yankees and Trea Turner will re-sign with the Dodgers.

Here are five teams that could be in the mix to give Judge his worth.

New York Yankees

It’s unlikely the Yankees would have held off their AL East competitors without Judge’s otherworldly contributions this season. To do that, they’ll have to significantly increase their initial offer, possibly surpassing Gerrit Cole’s $36 million, but the Yankees understand as well as anyone the value Judge offers. After signing Cole for nine years and $324 million in December 2019, they could be considering a similar deal to keep Judge.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants have made little long-term commitment. Carlos Rodón has a player option for next season and will likely step down after a terrific year. Brandon Belt’s $18.4 million is off the books. The maximum the Giants pay a player next season is $16 million to Brandon Crawford. San Francisco has the space to comfortably add a superstar, someone who could get the team back into playoff contention and serve as the face of the franchise after a disappointing .500 season – a player, perhaps, who grew up near Linden, Calif., and attended Fresno State.

Los Angeles Dodgers

If there is a high-profile free agent available, that club is usually on the short list of suitors. Yes, the Dodgers are committed to Betts long-term, but he’s expressed how much he loves playing second base, and he’s got reps there if they want to make room for the judge in right field. . Also, if the Dodgers wanted to keep Betts in the outfield, Judge demonstrated that he could play a capable center field. The Dodgers will likely have to decide if they want to do whatever it takes to bring Turner back or get involved in the judges’ draw.

New York food

Could Judge stay in New York with a long distance rival? Steve Cohen has demonstrated his willingness to spend — he gave Lindor 10 years and $341 million in April 2021, has the player with the highest AAV in baseball in Max Scherzer, and had the highest payroll in the baseball this year — but plenty of decisions loom in the Mets rotation, with Jacob deGrom likely stepping down and Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker potentially becoming free agents. Will the Mets be able to consolidate their rotation and add the most coveted impact bat on the market? They lacked the offensive pop of some of the National League’s top contenders this year, and Judge would obviously change that.

Texas Rangers

This front office clearly expected a more immediate impact after signing Seager (10 years, $325m) and Marcus Semien (seven years, $175m) last season as they got rid of manager Chris Woodward before relieving team president Jon Daniels of his duties. on his way to a fourth place finish this year. Rangers might be more of a dark horse possibility, but freshly added Bruce Bochy as manager, could they be in the mix to make another massive splash?

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He was previously editor of digital and print publications for the Dodgers. Follow him on Twitter at @Rowan Kavner.

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