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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge will be eligible for free agency following the end of the 2022 season, but he sounds like he'd prefer to sign an extension in the Bronx rather than hit the market. Here's what Judge had to say about his contract situation during a recent appearance on the R2C2 podcast

You know, leading into this, especially coming up through the minor leagues and rookie ball, you want to be a free agent, test the market a little bit and see what's out there. But that's one thing, I've been lucky enough to play in the best organization out of all of them, so who wants to go anywhere else? If we get an extension done before the season starts, that'd be great. I'd be completely honored to wear pinstripes for a couple more years. But if it doesn't happen and this is my last year [as a Yankee], I had a lot of great memories.

This past season Judge authored a .287/.373/.533 batting line with 39 home runs in 148 games. For his career, he owns an exceptional OPS+ of 150, and he also grades out as a defensive asset in right field. While Judge will probably always have injury concerns, there's no doubting his MVP upside when healthy. Judge turns 30 in late April, which means the first year of his next contract -- whether that be via an extension with the Yankees or a free agent contract with some other team -- would be his age-31 campaign. The benchmark would probably be the six-year, $150 million deal that George Springer signed with the Blue Jays prior to the 2021 season. 

Whatever the specifics, the clock is ticking for the Yankees to get something done, albeit with a degree of uncertainty thanks to the ongoing owner-implemented lockout. As is the case with almost every player in Judge's situation, Opening Day is likely the deadline. If nothing comes together by then, then Judge will very likely hit the market soon after the 2022 World Series concludes. Yankees GM Brian Cashman and team owner Hal Steinbrenner have both indicated a willingness to discuss a long-term extension with Judge, so there's at least some cause for optimism. As of November of last year, however, no such talks had taken place.