Before the season started, the Yankees had a decision to make – offer Aaron Judge a contract to keep him in pinstripes for the rest of his career or let him enter free agency.
The Yankees made Judge what seemed like a fair offer at the time of $213.5 million dollars for seven years right before the first game of the season. Judge declined, and the Yankees failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension.
Aaron Judge made it clear he didn’t want to continue the discussion on contract negotiations until the season was over.
Opening Day is supposed to be filled with excitement and hope, and yet, almost every fan I talked to that day in the stadium was completely dumbfounded as to why the Yankees didn’t do more to ensure Aaron Judge remained a Yankee. Some Yankees fans criticized Aaron Judge for not taking the offer since he stated he wanted to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career.
History for the Ages
As the regular season has come to an end and we enter the playoffs, it’s safe to say Aaron Judge is far and away the best player in the entire league. He carried the Yankees to a 99-63 record, hit an American League record 62 home runs, and just missed out on winning the triple crown.
The ball is now in the Yankees court. New York Yankees GM, Brian Cashman indicated again, he’d like to keep Judge in pinstripes. “He’s put himself in an amazing position to have a lot of choices,” Brian Cashman said. “And clearly, obviously, we’d like to win the day on that discussion, and that’s obviously for another day. But we said that before the season. We said that many times during the season. If you need to hear it again. I’ll say it again: Yeah, of course we love to have Aaron Judge back as New York Yankee, but that’s all for another day.”
The Judge Effect
Not only does Judge have a huge impact on wins and losses; he is easily one of the most marketable stars in the game, being the face of the New York Yankees.
Aaron Judge made his debut in August of 2016. The very next year, the Yankees debuted the “Judge’s chambers,” in section 104. Fans cannot buy tickets, instead, the team chooses fans and their families to sit in the seats.
Attendance at the stadium was up from last year. Yankee stadium averaged 38,719 fans in 2022 and 24,196 fans in 2021.
Also, as we all watched Judge on his chase to break the American League homerun record that was set by New York Yankee Roger Maris in 1961, TV ratings skyrocketed. On September 25th, the Yankees hosted the Boston Red Sox on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. 2.20 million viewers tuned in to watch Judge, making it the largest audience for a Sunday night game in the month of September since a matchup between the Yankees and Red Sox in 2010 (2.63 million).
The following Tuesday, the Yankees played the Blue Jays. The broadcast averaged 787,000 viewers on TBS and an additional 708,000 viewers on YES Network, making this the largest YES Network audience since Derek Jeter’s last home game in 2014 (1.2 million).
YES Network is averaging 362,000 viewers for the season, up 26% from last year and on pace for an 11-year high.
If you happen to make your way to a Yankees game today, the stadium is packed with a majority of fans rocking the number 99 jersey.
Aaron Judge doesn’t say much, but he certainly let his actions on the field do all the talking during the final year of his contract which will undoubtedly lead to a bidding war, and a huge payday.
Will the Yankees make Judge an offer he can’t refuse, or will we see him in a new jersey next Opening Day? It’s primarily up to the Yankees and it seems like an easy decision to make given how much the face of the New York Yankees means to the organization and the fans.
For now, hopefully number 99 can help the Yankees secure their 28th championship during this highly anticipated postseason run.