August 8, 2022

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If anyone knows why the Yankees and Aaron Judge should not be joined in professional...

If anyone knows why the Yankees and Aaron Judge should not be joined in professional matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.
Yes, you, toward the back. Yes, it’s true that the behemoth outfielder played in only 242 of a potential 384 games from 2018 through 2020.
OK, you in the Clint Frazier shirsey. No, I can’t deny the physical similarities between Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, whose Yankees contract takes him through the 2027 season.
All right, last one: You, holding up the “BAN ANALYTICS!” sign. Agreed, baseball offers few precedents when it comes to how 6-foot-7, 280-pound players age.
Objections noted. And denied.
The next time Judge comes to bat at Yankee Stadium, whether it’s the scheduled April 7 home opener against the Red Sox or a later date thanks to this unfortunate lockout, he should be not only married to Samantha Bracksieck, a union formalized this past week, but also committed to the Yankees for the long term.
Hal Steinbrenner should take the plunge with his organization’s best homegrown player in a generation because Judge, 29 and a year away from free agency, 1) wants to be a Yankee; 2) excels at being a Yankee; 3) is generally beloved by Yankees fans; and 4) sure seemed to figure out some stuff about his body in 2021.
No. 4 carries with it the least certainty and, if those lessons prove ephemeral, could impact No. 3. I’d accept that risk in return for the benefits reaped by a Judge extension.
Aaron Judge and Samantha Bracksieck share a kiss on their wedding day.MEGA
How much for the extension? Now that we’re at the lockout, it’s slightly silly to spitball such numbers because such a deal, to which Steinbrenner sounds open, will be negotiated under the rules (which we don’t know) of the next collective bargaining agreement. Nevertheless, duty calls, so how about taking the five-year, $189 million package that my colleague Joel Sherman proposed back in October, adding another year and $38 million to it (six years and $227 million, a tribute to the iconic Marla Gibbs), adding vesting options for 2028 through 2030 (his age-36 through -38 seasons) based on collective plate appearances, and, to seal the deal, throwing in an opt-out after 2024?
If Judge aims considerably higher than this, then that’s his prerogative and it’s the Yankees’ right to let him play out his walk year. Yet both sides could benefit from a megapact. Judge could enjoy the peace of mind that comes with such job security, and the Yankees would score points with their demanding fan base. The team’s clubhouse, too, should receive a jolt of positive energy from Judge, who has grown into the role of team leader, signing up for the long term.
The Yankees should make a long-term commitment to Aaron Judge.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
The Yankees would bet on Judge’s 2021, during which he played in 148 games, serving as the trend rather than the aberration. I’d offer that the dual durability of Judge and his fellow giant Stanton, after both guys struggled to stay on the field in prior campaigns, offers stronger evidence that Yankees director of player health and performance Eric Cressey solved the Rubik’s Cube of keeping this valuable duo on the field.
As for Judge and Stanton being too similar and a threat to compete for the same designated hitter position before their contracts run out, sure, in an ideal world you’d pair up, say, an infielder and an outfielder, or mix in a catcher or a pitcher, as your pillars. Every core group can’t be the Core Four, though, and last season, Stanton and Judge displayed rather compellingly not only the win value but also the entertainment value of having both in the lineup at optimal performance. Besides, the Yankees owe Stanton $159 million over the next seven years, obviously a nice chunk of change albeit rather quaint, from an annual-average value perspective, when you compare it to, say, the $130 million the Mets will pay Max Scherzer through 2024.
Once the labor mess gets settled, the Yankees should pop the question to Judge and hope he says yes. Like with any of these relationships, the naysayers might be right. Since the Yankees like Judge a lot, though, they should try to put a (World Series) ring on him, or even more than one.

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