Coming off a 2022 season in which he won American League MVP laurels and set the AL single-season record for home runs, Aaron Judge is not surprisingly the most coveted and most discussed free agent available right now. The incumbent New York Yankees still seem like the favorites to re-sign him, but by all accounts the San Francisco Giants are serious contenders, as well.
Speaking of which, Judge was recently named Time magazine's Athlete of the Year for 2022. In the piece devoted to Judge's latest honor, the slugger has a couple of quotes that one might consider revealing with regard to his ongoing free agency. First, here's what the native of Linden, Calif. -- about a two-hour drive from San Francisco -- and childhood fan of the Giants once said about that particular team. Sean Gregory writes:
"In fact his wife, high school sweetheart Samantha Bracksieck, reminded him of a prediction he made in 2010, his senior year at Linden High School. 'I said, in 10 years, I'll be married to Sam,' says Judge, 'and playing for the San Francisco Giants.' Judge smiles. 'I was like, that'd better not get out.'"
Another excerpt that may be considered ominous for the Yankees notes Judge's frustration when the team went public with negotiations on a contract extension last spring:
"He had felt blindsided in April when New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman took the rare step of publicly revealing that Judge had turned down $213.5 million to stay in the Bronx for the next seven years. 'We kind of said, Hey, let's keep this between us,'" says Judge. "I was a little upset that the numbers came out. I understand it's a negotiation tactic. Put pressure on me. Turn the fans against me, turn the media on me. That part of it I didn't like."
Judge is a canny sort, so he probably knows how these comments will come across in the heart of his free agency and that they may advance the Yankees' sense of urgency when it comes to re-upping with the franchise lifer. For the Giants and their rooters, the remarks no doubt make those waking dreams of Judge in San Francisco a bit more real.