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Yankees fail to sign Aaron Judge to long-term contract extension

The star outfielder’s Opening Day deadline will pass without the two sides coming to terms.

MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole is just over an hour away from firing the first pitch of the Yankees’ 2022 season. That means we’ll be underway with another baseball season in the Bronx, but it also means the unofficial deadline to sign superstar outfielder Aaron Judge to an extension will pass without an agreement being reached. Judge is set to eventually come to a one-year contract through either arbitration or an agreed settlement, and will play out his final season prior to hitting free agency.

Brian Cashman confirmed this morning that the Yankees will not sign a long-term contract with their star outfielder. The general manager also stated that the Yankees’ final offer would have tacked on an additional seven seasons, at an average of $30.5MM per year. Judge, who turns 30 later this month, would have been signed through his age-37 season under those terms, for a total of about $213 million.

Should Judge really make it all the way to free agency, he will immediately become perhaps the most sought-after hitter on the market, with only Trea Turner in his orbit (and Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts looming with possible opt-outs). The right fielder fully restored his status as one of the very best players in the game last season, shrugging off the injury issues of recent years to submit a full, stellar campaign. He maintained a 149 OPS+ and totaled 6.0 rWAR in 148 games, finishing fourth in AL MVP voting.

Even counting Judge’s more injury-plagued years, the big guy has averaged about 6 rWAR per non-pandemic season. That level of production explains why the Yankees wanted to keep Judge off the open market with an extension, but also explains why Judge wasn’t willing to sign off on anything other than quality terms.

For now, the Yankees will play on with the specter of Judge’s potential departure looming. He remains their best position player, and a vital piece of their 2022 championship push. Cashman has already said that the Yankees will pursue Judge free agency as well, so the book is not fully closed. Nonetheless, today’s events make it more likely that this will be the last such push with Judge in the Bronx.