- Aaron Judge rejected the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension.
- Unless a new extension is offered, he will enter free agency at the end of 2022.
- He may be joined on the market by José Abreu, Trea Turner, and more.
It’s no secret that Aaron Judge is having a career year. In fact, having already recorded 46 home runs this season with just under 40 games to go before the playoffs, we may even be watching the New York Yankees outfielder hit his way into the history books.
The Yankees are leading the AL East with a 74-48 record and World Series odds of +450, the third best odds in the league behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. Despite a recent losing streak ruining what was looking like a pretty stellar record for New York, the team is still well ahead of their division and almost certain to play in October.
The Yankees’ roster is unquestionably stacked with talent from top to bottom, but regardless, 2022 has been Judge’s year.
No. 46 for Aaron Judge. 💪 pic.twitter.com/1V6mGSLUIE
— MLB (@MLB) August 13, 2022
Judge looks to be contending to beat Roger Maris’ 1961 record for the most home runs hit by a Yankee in a single season (61) or even Barry Bonds’ 2001 all-time MLB record (73, though steroid scandals really took the shine off that honor). He has AL MVP odds of -500, and regardless of whether he breaks the record, there’s no denying he’s a phenomenal player who has performed exceptionally in 2022.
So what will happen to the star outfielder at the end of the season?
During spring training, Judge rejected a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension offer from the New York Yankees, reportedly hoping to get a longer deal with a higher value. His goal certainly isn’t out of the question, either — Judge is not only a fan favorite but arguably one of the best players in the league, and teams will put up the money for him, even if it’s not the Yankees.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 20, 2022
Having said that, I doubt New York will let him go without a fight. Over the next few months or even weeks, I expect we’ll see at least one or two more contract extension offers heading Judge’s way as the Yankees look to keep their star outfielder.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Judge simply doesn’t want to stay with the Yankees. New York is the only team he has ever played for — he was drafted by the Yankees in 2013 and made his MLB debut on August 13, 2016, during which he hit a home run in his first at-bat, somehow unsurprisingly.
Maybe he wants to try somewhere else. Maybe he thinks he can get a better deal elsewhere. Maybe he just wants to grow a beard.
Regardless, if Judge is still unattached after the playoffs and enters free agency, he will be the hottest player on the market, and that says a lot. There is a range of impressive names with contracts that expire at the end of 2022, so what could the free agency market look like in November?
Abreu often feels like the heart of the Chicago White Sox, but unless they’re ready to offer an extension, the first baseman’s contract will expire at the end of 2022. While I’m fairly certain that the White Sox will indeed offer an extension — fans may riot in the street if they don’t — it’s odd that we’ve not heard any real chatter on the topic.
Jose Abreu is untouchable right now 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DdWNYplh89
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 3, 2022
Abreu signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox in October 2013, just two months after his defection from Cuba. In November 2019, he agreed to the team’s one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer, but just a week later, he signed a new three-year, $50 million contract to supersede the first offer.
In his nine years since joining the White Sox, Abreu has won the Silver Slugger Award three times and was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player in 2020. This season, he’s been a standout player on an incredibly shaky 2022 White Sox roster, batting .311 with an OPS of .854 and 14 home runs.
If I were in Chicago’s front office, I’d offer Abreu anything he wants to stay on the South Side.
Turner is currently on a one-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, having been traded to the team from the Washington Nationals on July 30, 2021. The Dodgers are currently leading the NL West with a record of 84-36, and the 29-year-old shortstop has been a huge part of their success.
Trea Turner is very good at baseball. pic.twitter.com/3eS94CSxFy
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 2, 2022
Since this is his first full season in Los Angeles, it’s hard to say whether the team plans to keep Turner long-term. The Dodgers are likely to go all the way to the World Series this year with odds to win it all of +325, so whether they will re-sign their top players for another postseason push in 2023 is yet to be seen.
Turner is batting .305 with an OPS of .347 and 18 home runs this season. If the Dodgers don’t extend him (which they definitely should and are likely to do), he will be a very hot target on the free agency market in the offseason.
Josh Bell and Brandon Drury
Recently acquired by the San Diego Padres at the MLB Trade Deadline, first baseman Bell and third baseman Drury will both enter free agency at the end of the season unless offered contract extensions.
The Padres were arguably the most aggressive team going into this season’s deadline. An apparent “win now” attitude led them to part with a lot of their top prospects to sign a range of star players, including Bell, Drury, and All-Star outfielder Juan Soto.
While the players are individually performing well, the new team just doesn’t seem to have the natural cohesion they’d hoped for, with the Padres’ 68-56 record still a long way behind some others in contention.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) August 4, 2022
This season, Bell is batting .277 with an OPS of .825 and 16 home runs. Drury is batting 264 with a .824 OPS and 23 home runs. Should the Padres decide to have another go of it next year, perhaps even with Fernando Tatís Jr. back on the team, Bell and Drury are both likely to be essential parts of their plan.
However, neither player will come cheap, so perhaps San Diego will just have to cut their losses and chalk the 2022 season up as some very costly experience. Only time will tell.
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