NEW YORK – New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, speaking to reporters on Friday, expressed frustration at not having finalized a long-term contract extension with the club he wants to spend the rest of his career with. in the major leagues.
“I’m just disappointed because I expressed my desire to be a Yankee for life,” Judge said after the Yankees’ 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day. “I want to bring a championship back to New York. I want to do it for the fans here. This is my home. And I’m not doing it right now. It stinks, but I have a job to do on the field. I have to focus on that now and play ball.
The judge had given himself an open deadline to agree to an extension that would have kept him from hitting free agency. But he and the Yankees have not reached an agreement, with general manager Brian Cashman telling reporters earlier Friday that the team had offered a seven-year, $213.5 million extension, which, coupled with the 17 million offered in arbitration this season, would have made the whole package just over $230 million.
When asked if he’d like to address the fact that the Yankees made the rare move of publicly revealing their monetary offer, Judge declined to go into detail and described it as the business side of baseball.
“I don’t like to talk numbers. I like to keep it private. Something that I felt was private between my team and the Yankees,” Judge said. “I am a ball player. [Cashman] has a job to do, and I can’t control it… It didn’t take me by surprise; there is nothing to be upset about. It’s business. It’s a side of the sport that I like to play. In business, anything can happen, so you have to deal with it.”
Judge reiterated that he and his agent, Page Odle, would not continue negotiations until after the end of the season, believing that continuing to engage in talks with the Yankees would be a distraction.
Addressing whether he expected to make a deal with the Yankees over his 2022 salary or head to arbitration — with the judge’s camp case at $21 million and the Yankees countering at $17 million — Judge said he and his team are ready for wherever the process takes them.
“We’re ready for both,” Judge said. “If we’re able to settle – nobody likes going into that courtroom. I don’t really think it’s good for either side because they’re saying things I wouldn’t want to hear, and we let’s say things that they don’t do. I think if we can avoid it at all costs, that would be great. But me and our team, we are ready both ways.”
On whether he considered it a gamble to hand over an extension, given he’s been hampered by injuries three of the last four seasons, the judge said he was willing to take the risk.
Judge, one of the most popular players in all of baseball, is reportedly looking for a deal that puts him among the highest-paid outfielders in the game, alongside Bryce Harper (13, $330 million), Mookie Betts (12, $365 million) and Mike Trout (12, $426.5 million).
“Every day is a gamble,” he said. “Very few people have that opportunity to talk about overtime. So having that opportunity is something special, and I appreciate the Yankees wanting to do that. But I don’t mind going to free agency. I’m not really going to look at all the negatives. I’m just going to focus on what I have to do on the pitch and everything else will happen on its own.”
The judge added: “At the end of the year, I’m a free agent – I’ll be talking to 30 teams, and the Yankees will be one of those 30 teams. It’s always nice to try to close something. the sooner the better. But we couldn’t do it and it was on to baseball.”