Last spring, Aaron Judge rejected a seven-year, $213.5 million offer from the New York Yankees, which is not something a lot of people would have the guts to do heading into their age 30 season. But Judge bet on himself, and then he went on to become the 2022 AL MVP and single-season AL home run record holder, leaving GM Brian Cashman no choice but to tuck that Yankee tail between his legs and call Judge’s decision the “all-time best bet.”
So now that Judge is a free agent, what’s going to happen?
Well, the Yankees remain the odds-on favorites to sign Judge, even as his hometown Giants create pressure from the West, and the Yankees have apparently made their first new offer since that extension last year:
“We’re on the clock. So we’re certainly not going to mess around,” the Yankees general manager said from this year’s Covenant House Sleep Out at Silverstein Family Park, where he was set to sleep outside to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth. “So of course we’ve made another offer.”
That quote is from last night and contains some pretty significant information.
We already knew that Judge had been in contact with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner (“more than once,” as Cashman puts it), but this is the first news of an updated offer on the table. Jon Heyman has openly wondered if Judge was going to give the Yankees every shot at signing him before he tests the market and “taints” himself in the eyes of Yankees fans. And maybe that’s what this is.
My bet? He stays with the Yankees. But remember, if he does, the Giants are going to have a whole lot of money to spend and could quickly turn their eyes to the free agent shortstop market, where the Cubs are hoping to land a shorter-term deal.
While we’re on it, and before we dive into the rest of the rumors, I’ll point you in the direction of Jon Greenberg’s latest at The Athletic, where he explains the non-performance reasons the Cubs could use a star like, say, Carlos Correa. It’s a good read.
More Blue Jays-Nimmo Smoke
Jeff Passan was on Thursday’s episode of the J.D. Bunkis Podcast (Brett talked about the non-rumor parts here), and he seemed to imply what everyone else is thinking: Following the Teoscar Hernandez trade, the Blue Jays sure seem like an obvious fit for Brandon Nimmo (comments shortened and clarified for context):
I’m not saying that Teoscar Hernández was redundant, because a guy who has his skills can never be redundant. But what I am saying is that, if the Jays are going to take that money that they were going to pay Teoscar Hernández, and go out and get a Brandon Nimmo, does that change people’s minds?
And we have to acknowledge the reality that … you’re going have a budget. And if you feel if you can spend the money in that budget in a better way, and in the process go and get a relief pitcher (in the trade, that’s not a bad outcome)….
(We should) wait and see what the entire package looks like once they do go out and get a hitter. Once they do go out and get another pitcher. Whatever the Blue Jays do. Not look at this offseason as a matter of individual trades, but the sum of the parts ….
And he’s not alone in this connection. Jon Morosi was even more clear about it on MLB Network:
Contreras to the Cardinals?
Although this is hardly “news” in a post-Yadier Molina world, Jon Heyman did add some slightly stronger language to the Cardinals-Contreras pursuit which caught my attention (bolded emphasis mine):
The Cardinals are pursuing free-agent catcher Willson Contreras and look like a potential landing spot for the former Cub. While the Astros and other are linked to Contreras, St. Louis is among teams at the forefront of talks.
Heyman doesn’t add much more than that, but he does say the Cardinals appear more logical than the Astros, who are also known to be interested. I’d probably take some issue with that, but we’re splitting hairs. Both teams are interested, and the Cardinals’ involvement – at this point – is undeniable.
The tough part about all of this is that both the Astros and the Cardinals are teams known for prioritizing a very different skillset behind the plate than the one Contreras offers. But there’s been enough smoke – in my opinion – to believe that the interest is real. There’s always the possibility of splitting time at DH, of course.
The Starters Want to Get PAAAAID
When I saw that one GM said Jacob deGrom was seeking $40 million+, I wasn’t particularly surprised. That’s roughly the going rate for a stud starting pitcher on a super short term deal late in his career (it’s what Scherzer got, it’s roughly what Verlander will get, and it’s what I expect deGrom to end up with).
But when I read that Carlos Rodon is “said to be seeking $35M-plus following his year in San Fran,” my eyes bulged out.
One GM followed these numbers with the caveat that these are “early prices,” but still. $35 million per year for Rodon, in my opinion, is out of the question, at least at the length he’s gotta be looking for. If he signed for anywhere near that amount on a five or six year deal, I’d understand why the Cubs sat out.
Rodon, who turns 30 in three weeks, has two very good seasons to his name, one of which amounted to just 24 starts. He’s also dealt with injuries and a loss of velocity at different points throughout his career. Paying him something close to a record salary for a substantial period of time is a risk some other team can take.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think he’s worth plenty ($30M+ is a reasonable risk, depending on the years) – and maybe if you’re ready to win next season, you just bite the bullet – but for the Cubs, $35M+ is just silly absent a LOT of other, expensive moves (I don’t see happening).
Odds and Ends:
- More smoke that Gleyber Torres is available this offseason. Torres, 26 in a few weeks, is still SO young and under control for two more seasons via arbitration. He would be wise to tear it up these next two years, because he’ll be a young free agent.
- The odds of a Cody Bellinger free agency are increasing. I am very much on board with the Cubs getting involved when he becomes available:
- Should the Cardinals sign a shortstop? Yes. Definitely. Will they …? I hope not! Derrick Goold discusses the possibility of a deal, the overlap of Nolan Arenado, and whether they’re only “in” on a bargain: