Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, speaking to reporters Friday, expressed frustration at not concluding a long-term contract extension with the club with which he wants to spend the rest of his major league career.
“I’m just disappointed because I have been vocal about wanting to be a Yankee for life,” Judge stated after the Yankees’ 6-5 extra-innings win over the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day. “I want to bring a championship back to New York. I want to do it for the fans here. This is home for me. And I’m not getting that done right now. It stinks, but I got a job to do on the field. I got to shift my focus to that now and play some ball.”
Judge had self-imposed a deadline of Opening Day for coming to terms on an extension that would have prevented him from hitting free agency. But he and the Yankees did not reach an agreement, with GM Brian Cashman telling reporters earlier Friday that the team had 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.
When asked whether he would like to address the fact that the Yankees made the rare move of publicly revealing their monetary offer, Judge refused to get into specifics and described it as the business side of baseball.
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“I don’t like talking numbers. I like to keep that private. Something I kind of felt like it was private between my team and the Yankees,” Judge said. “I’m a ballplayer. [Cashman] has a job to do, and I can’t control that. … It didn’t take me by surprise; there’s nothing to get upset about. It’s business. It’s a side of the sport that I love to play. In business, anything can happen, so you got to roll with it.”
Judge reiterated that he and his agent, Page Odle, would continue negotiations only after the end of the season, considering that continuing to engage in talks with the Yankees would be a distraction.
Addressing whether he expected to work out a deal with the Yankees on his 2022 salary or head to arbitration — with Judge’s camp filing at $21 million and the Yankees countering at $17 million — Judge said that he and his team are prepared for wherever the process takes them.
“We’re prepared for both,” Judge said. “If we’re able to settle — nobody likes going in that courtroom. I don’t really think it’s good for both sides because they say some stuff that I wouldn’t want to hear, and we say some stuff they don’t want to hear. I think if we can avoid it at all cost, that’d be great. But myself and our team, we’re ready for either way to go.”
Regarding whether he considered it a gamble to pass on an extension, given he has been hampered by injuries three of the past four seasons, Judge said he was willing to assume the risk.
Judge, one of the most popular players in all of baseball, is believed to be seeking a deal that would place him among the top-paid outfielders in the game, alongside Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million), Mookie Betts (12 years, $365 million) and Mike Trout (12 years, $426.5 million).
“Every day is a gamble,” he said. “Very few people get this opportunity to talk about an extension. So me getting this opportunity is something special, and I appreciate the Yankees wanting to do that. But I don’t mind going to free agency. I’m not really going to look at all the negatives. I will just focus on what I need to do on the field and everything else will take care of itself.”
Judge added: “At the end of the year, I’m a free agent — will talk to 30 teams, and the Yankees will be one of those 30 teams. It’s always nice to try to wrap something up sooner, the better. But we weren’t able to get it done and it’s on to baseball.”
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