Aaron Judge's historical season and what’s next for the Yankees slugger as he heads into free agency
By: Kaitlin Dandini
Oct. 25, 2022
Photo Credit: Associated Press
New York Yankees star Aaron Judge made history this season, hitting 62 home runs to surpass Roger Maris for the American League single-season home run record. Judge's talent isn’t new; ever since his rookie season in 2017, he has been amongst the top-ranking players in the MLB. However, this year, he stood out more than ever, not only for his record-breaking home run count, but also for his powerhouse offensive season which could lead to his first American League MVP award.
Judge entered this season on a gamble. His contract with the Yankees is set to expire after this season, and before Opening Day last spring, the Yankees offered Judge a seven-year $213.5 million contract extension. Judge declined this deal and chose to enter into the 2022 season without a set plan for the following year. This was a risky decision, given that bad performance or injury during this season could cause Judge to face a much smaller salary entering into free agency. However, after one of the most skilled offensive seasons in history, Judge’s gamble paid off big-time. Judge's “bet on yourself” season now has him heading into free agency with his next contract figures projected to top $300 million.
While Yankees fans are no doubt in awe about the incredible season Judge had, many are left with nervous uncertainty about his pending free agency. The bottom line for the Yankees is that they need Judge; he’s been an obvious star since his rookie season and has become even brighter this year. Not only is he one of the best players on the field, but he is also a huge business asset to the Yankees. According to CBS, Judge’s jersey sales have now outnumbered Derek Jeter’s at Yankee Stadium. Judge drives not only ticket and jersey sales for the Yankees, but also boosts television rankings and ad sales.
While Judge’s win and profit-driving abilities make him an invaluable asset to the franchise, he also benefits from playing in New York. Forbes recently declared the Yankees the fourth-most valuable franchise in the world at $6 billion. The Yankees have one of the richest histories, the widest reach, and the biggest fan base in the world; all of which serve to benefit Judge. Being a Yankee provides Judge with more endorsement opportunities and other market benefits that are unique to New York.
There is no doubt that the Yankees will want to keep Judge; Judge has expressed that he also wants to stay in New York, but the allure of a higher contract could pull him to a new location.
Judge began the year on a gamble, and after this historic season, he will enter free agency awaiting one of the biggest paydays in MLB history. His accomplishments have already cemented him as a franchise and league legend. Yankees and baseball fans alike will nervously wait to see whether Judge will return to the 2023 season in pinstripes, or a new uniform.