The opening day arrived in the Bronx on Friday, the sun bathing the radiant green lawn at Yankee Stadium. The Boston Red Sox could also sail from their hotel.
“It’s a special place,” their manager Alex Cora said before training. “If you need the alarm to go off this morning, I’m sorry.”
For the Yankees and Aaron Judge, the alarm clock played the sound of a sad trombone. They happily ended the day with a 6-5 victory in the singles championship of their new third baseman, Josh Donaldson, in the 11th inning. The judge was on deck to slap Isia Kiner-Falefa, a ghost runner who rushed home from second base.
Today was the deadline for the referee to sign a contract before the off-season, when he will be entitled to free action. There were no last-minute negotiations; two hours before the first speech, general manager Brian Cashman said the talks were over, at least for now.
The Yankees, Cashman said, have offered Judge, their cornerstone outfielder, a seven-year, $ 213.5 million contract that will begin in 2023. Judge, who turns 30 this month, said no.
“Our goal is to keep Aaron Judge a New York Yankee as we move forward, and I know that’s also his intention, and that’s good,” Cashman said. “Obviously, we are going to enter a new arena, which will take place at the end of the season, when a free agency will start. Maybe it will determine its real market value, because at this stage, of course, we could not agree.
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The Yankees were relatively quiet in the offseason, largely ignoring the reliable market of free agents. The idea was that Judge would be their waste, and if he signed the contract, it would be the second largest deal after the World Series after Corey Seeger’s 10-year contract with Texas for $ 325 million.
The Yankees have indeed added two regular players, Donaldson and Keener-Falef, in trade with Minnesota on two others, Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshelu. They saved the man from Anthony Ritz’s first base and exchanged him for rescuer Miguel Castro, but otherwise survived.
“In terms of turning the clock back, I have nothing to turn to,” Cashman said. “I feel we’ve improved in a lot of areas that we needed to address, and we still have the opportunity, if anyone changes their mind, to keep the player we’d like to keep.”
There are no rules forbidding the Yankees from continuing negotiations with Judge. The deadline was his strategy, and the judge hedged against it at the end of spring training. The Yankees, Cashman said, would be willing to continue the conversation.
“I will respect his position,” Cashman said. “But I will never rule out, if possible, revisiting everything over time. I mean, it’s too good a player on my part to be stubborn and say, “No, no, we won’t talk anymore.” If there’s anything for either side to tune in or listen to, I’m open to it always. ”
Cashman said he could not know if the Yankees would make the same offer after the season; it can be higher or lower, depending on what happens by then. Now the risk goes to the judge.
Some players bet on themselves and go ahead; Max Scherzer once refused to renew his contract with Detroit for $ 144 million and then received $ 210 million from Washington as a free agency. Again, others lose the bet, like Juan Gonzalez, who also turned down an offer from the Tigers for $ 140 million and received about $ 46 million by the end of his career.
The Yankees and the judge have not yet settled their salaries for 2022; they are scheduled for an arbitration hearing to determine whether Judge will receive $ 21 million, as he requested, or a Yankee offer of $ 17 million.
“Just entering into renewal talks was a blessing,” the judge said. “I never in my life thought I would have such an opportunity. This is not something that is guaranteed. Just the thought of following this path with the Yankees is something special. I know that last year it was guaranteed to me; it’s been an arbitration year and that’s what I’m going to focus on. I have one year to play, and extending my contract is good, but I need to focus on bigger things. “
It’s hard to predict how Judge will age because there’s never been a player of this size to use him as a basis for comparison. The referee is the only positional player in the history of the sport, according to the Baseball Reference, whose height is at least 6 feet 7 inches and 275 pounds.
Adam Dunn was close, an inch shorter than Judge and a little heavier. A trusted striker of the 40-year-old under 30, Dan didn’t grow old and was finished by his 35th birthday. The best comparison is Gadget’s teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who is 6 feet 6 and 245 pounds and signed under 37.
The Yankees accepted this contract (with some wage cuts) in trade with Miami after the 2017 season. It was natural for them to become attached to Judge for the same period as Stanton, who is about two and a half years older. But was it reasonable?
Stanton, who took Homer in the front row of the right field on Friday, spent two healthy seasons in New York and two injured. The referee followed a similar pattern: he was solid as a rookie and again last season, but missed 37 percent of the Yankees ’games in the three years between them.
This season, Judge may be forced to miss the Yankees game in Toronto. Only players vaccinated against coronavirus will be admitted to Canada, and Judge was modest about his vaccination status. Cashman would not say what role this played in the negotiations.
When the Red Sox signed infiltrator Trevor Story (six years, $ 140 million) last month, they made it a precondition for Story to get the vaccine. This is a reasonable request to a player in team sports – especially to a star with influence in the club, like the Judge of the Yankees.
“He’s the best teammate,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s probably the biggest leader in this hall and he’s an amazing player who wants to come out and be great and wants nothing more than to be part of a champion club. I have no doubt that whatever the outcome, nothing will change the way Aaron gets to things. ”
Boone spoke before the game, shortly after the referee met reporters at his locker. He now has a seat at the far end of the club, between an empty kiosk and an entrance to restricted areas. It is a symbol of the status of the judge, which was awarded by the head of the club Rob Kukuza. Previous residents were Jorge Posada, Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner.
“I talked to Gordy about it a little bit – he said, ‘God forbid,'” the judge said. “It’s an incredible honor. I really talked to Robbie about it, he asked if I wanted to be here. I said, “I just appreciate what you think I deserve to be here, it means a lot.” I hope I keep this locker well. ”
It could be a short-term lease.