NEW YORK – Far apart from the New York Yankees on a long-term deal, Aaron Judge carried through his promise to cut off talks when the first pitch of the season was thrown.
“I’m just disappointed because I think I’ve been vocal about I want to be a Yankee for life" he said. "I want to bring a championship back to New York. I want to do it for the fans here. They’re family. This is home for me, and not getting that done right now, it stinks.”
Starting perhaps his final season with the Yankees, Judge was 2 for 5 with a double as New York railled for a season-opening 6-5, 11-inning win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday.
“At the end of the year, I’m a free agent. I can talk to 30 teams and the Yankees will be one of those 30 teams,” Judge said. “So, it’s always nice to try to wrap something up sooner, the better. But like I said, we weren’t able to get it done and now it’s on the baseball.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team offered an eight-year contract worth $230.5 million to $234.5 million, the difference to have been determined in arbitration for this year's salary.
Judge's representatives wanted a nine-year deal in excess of the average annual value of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout's contract, which comes to $319.6 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Judge's stance was not made public.
Cashman said he spoke with Judge's agent, to no avail.
“We obviously had an extended conversation over the last three weeks or so with Page Odle and I — I actually had a conversation with Aaron Judge briefly, as well, but we were unsuccessful in concluding a multiyear pact,” Cashman said, looking glum during a news conference about two hours before the first pitch. “Obviously, our intent is to have Aaron Judge stay as a New York Yankee as we move forward, and I know that’s his intent, as well, which is a good thing.”
Cashman said the Yankees offered a contract averaging $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with Judge's 2022 salary to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.
“It’s just an honor to even get a chance to be discussing those kind of talks and be in this position,” Judge said, adding that he didn't take issue with the Yankees making figures public.
He hopes to avoid an arbitration hearing, which would take place during the next few months.
“Nobody likes going in that courtroom,” Judge said. "They say some stuff that I wouldn't want to hear and we say some stuff that they don’t want to hear. And I think if we can avoid going in that courtroom at all costs, that’d be great."
Cashman anticipates talks will resume after the season. Judge would not be free to negotiate with all teams until the sixth day after the World Series.
“We'll wait now as we enter the winter. There's no guarantees that anything will happen with that,” Cashman said. “I know that the intent on both parties would be to stay here. He’s been a great Yankee. He’s an impactful player. He’s one of the game’s great players. And so — certainly our hope is that at some point we’ll find that common ground that we both feel comfortable with, but the timing obviously on that is not going to happen right now.”
Judge is a three-time All-Star who turns 30 on April 26. He led the Yankees last season with a .287 batting average, 39 homers and 98 RBIs.
His locker was moved this season from near the front entrance of the Yankees clubhouse to the stall next to the entrance to the showers, a spot that goes to a senior player and had been occupied by Brett Gardner. The stall opposite Judge's is occupied by Gerrit Cole, who took it over from CC Sabathia.
“I get a better view of the TV,” Judge said. “I talked to Gardy a little bit about it. He said: ‘Take care of it.’”
Judge entered with a .276 average, 158 homers and 366 RBIs in six major league seasons.
“He’s the ultimate teammate,” Yankees manager Aaron 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 a championship club. And there’s no doubt in my mind, whatever the outcome is, nothing will change in the way Aaron goes about things.”
Teammate Giancarlo Stanton said took the lack of an agreement in stride.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing until he’s he’s not there, so there’s plenty of time," Stanton said. “I think it’s a little over-exaggerated that it didn’t get done right now.”
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