The 2023 MLB offseason is underway, and everyone around Major League Baseball is waiting for New York Yankees outfielder and now free agent Aaron Judge to decide where he will play baseball for the next few years.
Judge, who will be 31 years old next April, will be the highest-paid player this offseason and deserves every penny of it. Judge and the New York Yankees could not reach a deal to extend him last offseason, and Judge bet on himself in a walk year and did it pay off.
Judge set the American League home run record by hitting 62 home runs and breaking former New York Yankees Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs, which was set in 1961. Judge also had 131 runs batted in, and his batting average was .311.
Judge put up one of the best regular seasons in MLB history for a hitter and might have had the best walk year in the history of the sport.
Judge was being watched all season long when he was hitting the ball out of the park night in and night out, and now the entire baseball world will be waiting for him to put ink on paper and sign a contract with his new team.
Judge has been rumored to either stay with the New York Yankees or maybe travel west and return home to the state of California and sign with the San Francisco Giants. Teams like the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers have also been rumored for his services, but those all seem like a long shot.
The best thing for Judge and the MLB is that he continues to wear the pinstripes and gets to play right field in Yankee Stadium for the next eight to ten years.
Judge And The Yankees Are The Face Of Baseball
The MLB is at its best when the New York Yankees are striving, and they are at their best. Everyone either loves them or can’t stand them and wants to see them go down. The entire baseball world usually roots against the Yankees come October, and the postseason is not the same when the Yankees aren’t in it.
If Judge returns to the Yankees, they are probably guaranteed a playoff spot for the next few years. The Yankees won 99 games in 2022; if it weren’t for Judge, they probably wouldn’t have even won 90 games.
The MLB has struggled with marketing players throughout the years, and Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout knows all about that. Trout has been the best player in the league for the last decade, and most of the United States don’t even know who he is.
It doesn’t help that Trout has only been to the postseason once in his career, and he was swept in three games. It also doesn’t help that he plays on the west coast, where most people on the east coast are sleeping by the time he puts on his batting helmet, and he plays for the second team in Los Angeles right behind the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers.
The MLB could never use Mike Trout as the face of the league, and they had no idea how even to market him, but Judge sells himself well, and he has turned into the face of the MLB, and he is precisely what this sport needed.
When you play for the most storied franchise in the history of sports and play in New York City, you will have many people’s attention. When you are hitting home runs left and right and putting on a better show than a Broadway musical every day, it will start gaining people’s interest around the country.
You don’t even have to watch baseball to know that Judge is a New York Yankee and that he was taking place in a home run race in the latter part of September. Every day you tuned into ESPN, they showed Judge highlights and left other sporting events to tune into live coverage when Judge got up to the plate.
Judge is precisely what the MLB needed this season when at one point, it didn’t seem like the season was going to happen when the MLB and MLBPA couldn’t reach a deal and the first two series of the year were postponed. As a result, many people turned away from the game, and the rise of Judge brought many people back to watch him do things they might have never seen a player do before.
Judge and the way he is playing and being part of a city and team known for guys like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and many others greats is the best thing for the MLB at the moment. However, it could ruin the game if Judge were to get rid of his pinstripes.
Why Judge Leaving Would Hurt?
If Judge decided to play for the San Francisco Giants, he would no longer be the face of the sport. First, he would play on the west coast, and nobody east of the Mississippi would tune in and watch him. Second, he would be playing for a baseball team that has been up and down since winning three World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014 and last, the playoffs are not a foregone conclusion in San Francisco.
Judge would be playing in a division where he would have the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been the best regular-season team in the MLB for the last decade. He would also have to face the San Diego Padres, who are willing to spend money and have guys like Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and many more stars.
It would be difficult for Judge to get to the playoffs year in and year out, and you must be playing baseball in October if you want to be the face of the sport.
Judge is almost guaranteed to make the playoffs playing for the New York Yankees. Judge’s official rookie year was in 2017 when he won the A.L Rookie of the Year award and came in second place in A.L MVP voting behind Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. Judge and the Yankees have not missed the playoffs with together and; their last losing season was in 1992.
There is an excellent chance that we will see Judge in October for many more years if he decides to put the pinstripes back on and give it another chance in the Bronx.
Judge moving on from the Yankees would be a good off-season story, but when the regular season comes, it will hurt the sport, and the sport does not need any more damage to it now. Judge is arguably the best player in the MLB and playing for the best franchise in all sports is too good, and I hope it doesn’t go away this offseason.
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