NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees failed to reach a long-term contract extension with star right fielder Aaron Judge prior to his Opening Day deadline, general manager Brian Cashman confirmed Friday. Cashman said the team offered seven years and $30.5 million per year on top of a one-year contract to avoid arbitration in 2022. The extension value would have been $213.5 million.
"We're all disappointed right now that we can't be talking about a contract extension today. Not now, but hopefully later," Cashman said. "... Both sides would like to be here. I think Aaron Judge doesn't want to be anywhere but here, and we'd love to make that happen as well."
Judge and the Yankees do not have a 2022 contract in place -- Cashman confirmed a date for an arbitration hearing has been set, though they hope to avoid one -- and he filed for a $21 million salary prior to the arbitration filing deadline. The Yankees filed at $17 million. The team's $17 million salary in 2022 plus the extension would equal eight years and $230.5 million total.
"I'm disappointed because I've been vocal that I want to be a Yankee for life and bring a championship back to New York," Judge said following his team's Opening Day win. "... It stings but I've got a job to do on the field."
The $30.5 million average annual value of the extension would have been the highest in franchise history for a position player, surpassing Alex Rodriguez's $27.5 million, though it would have been behind Gerrit Cole's $36 million franchise record for all players. Here are the largest outfield contracts in baseball history:
|Total guarantee||Average annual value|
1. Mike Trout, Angels: $35.54 million
2. Mookie Betts, Dodgers: $30.42 million
4. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees: $325 million
5. Bryce Harper, Phillies: $25.38 million
Cashman did not rule out extension talks during the regular season, though Judge set a firm Opening Day deadline. "I've got a game to focus on right now. So if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'll see you guys after the game and we'll talk about that," Judge said Friday morning.
"His interest, as he's conveyed to me, is he doesn't want to be anywhere else," Cashman said. "But at the same time, he knows there are no guarantees ... We are happy he is in pinstripes. We look forward to him leading this team this year."
It is rare for a general manager to publicly reveal the terms of a rejected contract offer. Cashman claimed he did so because the information would eventually come out anyway, so he was just ripping off the band-aid, though it's not hard to see this as an attempt at damage control. An attempt to make Judge look like the unreasonable party because he rejected a large contract.
"I don't like talking numbers. I like to keep that private. That's something I felt like was private between my team and the Yankees," Judge said. "... I can't control what happens on the other side."
The Yankees have passed on several top free agents in recent years, including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado four years ago and Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman this past offseason. The thought was the team was saving its next huge dollar deal for Judge, a homegrown Yankee. Now, the Yankees failed to sign Judge prior to free agency and appear to be taking steps to make him look like the bad guy, or at least pressure him into accepting their offer.
For the Yankees, Judge is their best and most marketable player, a player whose value to the franchise transcends his on-field performance. There is a section of stands in right field at Yankee Stadium dedicated to him (the "Judge's Chambers") and the club has launched countless marketing campaigns around Judge the last few seasons. Both sides certainly benefit -- being a popular Yankee means Judge has more endorsement deals than any player in baseball.
"Very few people get this opportunity to talk extension," Judge said. "Me getting this opportunity is something special and I appreciate the Yankees wanting to do that. But I don't mind going into free agency ... At the end of this year, I'll talk to 30 teams. The Yankees will be one of those teams."
Soon after reporting to spring training Judge indicated he would not negotiate a contract after Opening Day. "I'm gonna stick with that deadline. I think it's best for both parties, so they can focus on what they need to do and I can focus on what I need to do, which is on the field. If we're not close by then, what's the point of communicating in the season?" he told the New York Post's Dan Martin recently.
The Yankees have four players signed through at least 2025: Cole, Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and DJ LeMahieu. The Judge extension would have tied up approximately $110 million per year in only five players through 2025. Others like Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jordan Montgomery, Anthony Rizzo, Luis Severino, and Jameson Taillon can become free agents either this coming offseason or next. New York has some roster turnover coming.
Judge, 30 later this month, authored a .287/.382/.544 batting line with 39 home runs en route to a fourth place finish in the AL MVP voting in 2021. When he's on the field, Judge has always performed at an elite level, though staying on the field has been an issue at times. Injuries limited him to 242 of 384 possible regular season games from 2018-20, or 63 percent.
Last season the Yankees went 92-70 and lost the AL Wild Card Game to the rival Red Sox. They have been to the postseason each of the last five years, but have not advanced beyond the ALCS.