The 2022 Major League Baseball season — whenever it begins — will be the last year in which Aaron Judge is under contract with the New York Yankees.
And his future with the club appears just as uncertain as the status of MLB’s Opening Day this year amid another maddening lockout instituted by the owners on the players.
The 29-year-old slugger is in his final year of arbitration where, according to Spotrac, he is projected to make roughly $17 million. It will be the most he’s ever made in his career having made under $700,000 from 2016-2019, $8.5 million in 2020, and $10.1 million last season.
Far cheaper than what the three-time All-Star is worth considering he’s one of the game’s premier power hitters when healthy. In his career, Judge has posted 162-game averages of a .940 OPS with 45 home runs, and 104 RBI.
He’s finally in position for a massive payday, but it remains to be seen if the Yankees are willing to dish out that kind of cash on a deal that could span anywhere between $150 million-$250 million — if not more. But it appears as though Judge is setting an Opening Day deadline of when extension negotiations will have to end.
“Whatever happens – if we get an extension done at some point before the season starts, that’d be great and I’d be completely honored to wear pinstripes a couple more years,” Judge told the R2C2 Podcast with CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco. “But if it doesn’t happen and this is my last year, I had a lot of great memories. And it doesn’t matter if it’s my last year or first year, I’m going to go out there and play my best and do what I need to do for the city and do what I need to do for the team.
“It’s all in God’s hands. It’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”
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It certainly isn’t helping that the lockout is withholding the Yankees from having any sort of contact with Judge. Should negotiations between the league and players’ union drag into the spring — leaving a shortened window to prepare for the 2022 season — that’s going to make a pact between Judge and the Yankees all the more difficult to make.