The Yankees and superstar right fielder Aaron Judge couldn’t come to an agreement on a one-year contract in pre-arbitration talks, meaning that the pressure cooker has been turned up just a bit higher.
Per multiple reports, Judge has asked for $21 million for the 2022 season while the Yankees stood firm at $17 million as MLB”s deadline to avoid arbitration passed on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that the two parties now won’t speak. In fact, the Yankees are expected to open talks about a long-term contract extension for the 29-year-old within the next week.
But the clock is ticking — rather quickly, too, on an imperative two-week window.
Judge has made it known that he won’t indulge in contract negotiations after Opening Day on April 7 which means New York management has just two weeks to hammer out a long-term deal if they so choose.
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Based on the organization’s actions throughout the offseason and free agency where they opted not to make a big splash to stay close to MLB’s competitive balance tax, a sizable deal for the slugger appears to be the plan. They just have to figure out a way to fit it within a payroll that already features the two $300 million-plus contracts of Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton.
Should talks go south, an arbitration hearing to decipher the salary of Judge’s one-year contract could further splinter the relationship between him and the team.
That certainly creates a precarious situation for the club heading into an offseason that would see Judge become a free agent for the first time in his career.
And there likely wouldn’t be a shortage of interested teams looking to get his signature, either.
Injuries have limited his rise to even further heights in Major League Baseball, but the face of the Yankees has posted 162-game averages of .280/.391/.563 (.954 OPS, 154 OPS+) with 46 home runs and 106 RBI since the start of the 2017 season.