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Judge is not to blame for free agency outcome

The “Jeter if he stays, Canó if he goes” narrative should not sit well in the stomachs of Yankees fans.

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Aaron Judge sweepstakes are officially underway, and with a meeting between the star right fielder and the San Francisco Giants reportedly had on Tuesday, lots of talk was had about the state of the negotiations between Judge and the New York Yankees as well.

It has been the talk of the MLB landscape since the Houston Astros walked off the field with the Commissioner’s Trophy, from general manager Brian Cashman confirming that the Yankees have made an offer to Judge, to the tweet above, with Judge slyly indicating with a wink that he was in San Francisco for more than just seeing family and friends. The YES Network approached the situation from a different angle. Jack Curry and John Flaherty had some interesting things to say about the state of the negotiations and the way people will perceive Judge depending on which road he chooses to go down:

First, while the sentiment on the surface may seem adequate, there are some key problems with this kind of analysis relative to signing Judge. Primarily, it’s the fact that the Yankees let him get to this position in the first place. The Yankees in 2000 signed Derek Jeter to a 10-year deal after negotiating tirelessly for a season. They made it their priority to sign Jeter before he even hit the market, and the Yankees having not done that with Judge (as evidenced by the Opening Day deadline in 2022) are paying the price.

The idea that this situation falls on Judge instead of the organization and management that let him get to this situation in the first place relieves all of those up top from blame, and that is a big problem. Especially considering the Canó and Jeter comparisons are not entirely fair, to begin with.

The Yankees' pursuit to extend Jeter was obviously on another level. He was the captain of the team. He led by example both in the clubhouse and on the field. There was no way that the Yankees were going to let him leave. However, Canó was a different story. First, they didn’t extend him when they should have, and when they tried to bid for his services, the Seattle Mariners made it look like child’s play, with the difference being $65 million.

In the simplest terms, the Yankees are pursuing Judge the way that they pursued Jeter, except a year too late. Pushing the narrative that the 6-foot-7 superstar right fielder that just hit 62 home runs in a contract year (when the Yankees should have been trying to negotiate a deal far before this prior season) is the same as Jeter if he stays or Canó if he goes, feels pretty unfair to the player. It lets the management team off the hook for the blame too, when in reality, it would be their fault that Judge walked.

The final point I will make here is that Jeter is an anomaly in sports, especially today. Staying with a team for your entire career as a player is a feat that not many achieve, and spinning the Judge situation towards the storyline of him being “not Jeterian if he doesn’t re-sign” doesn’t sit well either. He’s a free agent. He doesn't have to do what’s best for the team, and if he signs somewhere else, that doesn’t mean he would have been a bad captain in The Bronx.

So yes, Curry is right, this is just “one way to look at the scenario.” However, it’s not one that I would give much merit to considering the differences in the situations with all three players and their contract negotiations, and the kind of backlash it switches from management and places on the player.