Yankees focused on Aaron Judge, not going to rush him

The New York Yankees want to make clear that Aaron Judge is their top — and currently only — priority in free agency.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman stated Monday at the MLB winter meetings that the team is continuing to have conversations with Judge and his representatives, and that the two sides have been exchanging contract offers. He said owner Hal Steinbrenner, who said last month that he wants Judge to “be a Yankee for the rest of his life,” met with the 2022 American League MVP personally in Tampa, Florida.

Steinbrenner is “putting his money where his mouth is,” Cashman said.

“We’d love to have our player back,” Cashman said. “We would love to continue to call him our player every step of the way as he follows what looks like — as long as nothing happens — a career path that will lead him to Cooperstown. I would like him to be in pinstripes every step of the way.”

Cashman stated he was unaware of any plans for Judge to be at the winter meetings in San Diego and that the team currently has no additional plans to meet face-to-face with the star slugger. Judge was at the Saints-Bucs NFL game in Tampa on Monday night.

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Due to the large financial commitment that signing Judge would require, the Yankees presently are on hold with several other free agents as they wait for Judge’s decision.

Cashman said the Yankees would not put a timetable on Judge, out of respect for him.

“I appreciate being in a position to have a conversation with a player of Judge’s magnitude,” said Cashman, who re-signed with the franchise on a four-year contract Monday. “The ownership here has allowed us to stay in the game on a big-ticket item. And that’s great. I’m sure there’s a lot of teams that would love to have access to a player of his caliber but can’t participate because the asks are going to be so immense.”

While the Yankees have contingency plans if they are unable to re-sign Judge, Cashman stated the team can’t commit to making any other big moves.

“All the dominoes falling are dominoes, like an Aaron Judge. You know, if Aaron Judge signs somewhere else, do we commit to something else? Do we remake ourselves completely? It’s not what we want to do. We have some really high-end young kids that are here that we’re really excited about,” Cashman said.

But as free agency rolls on and more players leave the market, Cashman acknowledged the team is getting more and more risk by waiting for Judge to make a decision on his future.

“It’s not like we’ve missed time in my opinion,” Cashman said. “I understand the longer things go, the more at risk you are. It’s easier if we are driving, but we’re not driving it.”

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