Yankees boss Hal Steinbrenner is aware that the price may rise to sign Aaron Judge to a longer-term contract after the star slugger’s excellent first-half performance.
Judge turned down an eight-year contract worth $230.5 million to $234.5 million, cutting talks before the April 8 opener and saying he would not renegotiate until after the season. Judge’s representatives wanted a nine-year deal higher than the average annual value of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout’s contract, which comes to $319.6 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the judge The attitude of the public was not made.
“Is it a possibility? Of course it is a possibility,” Steinbrenner said during his midseason media availability on Wednesday. “But cross that bridge when I come to that.”
Judges eligible for free agency after the World Series lead the major leagues with 29 homers. He is second in the AL with 60 RBI and is batting. 281, a big reason why the Yankees started Wednesday with a major league-best 58-23 record and a 13-game lead in the AL East.
“Aaron is a great Yankee and he is very valuable to this organization,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s a great leader. Obviously, he’s done very well this year, which we’re all thrilled about. So, look, any great Yankee, yeah, that’s something we’re going to look at and Talking seriously. It means a lot to the organisation. No one will deny it.”
After the Yankees made their long-term offer public in April, the judge and team last month agreed to a $19 million, one-year deal that avoided an arbitration hearing. Steinbrenner said that even if talks resume during the season, the Team Yankees would not discuss talks publicly until the season is over.
“We made an offer that I think was a very good one,” Steinbrenner said. “It was definitely based on numbers, but it was also based on what he meant to this organization. It was a combination of both. And we haven’t done a deal yet. We had less time, of course.” From now on, this off season than we would normally do because of the lockdown and all. But no regrets. We are going to discuss it at some point.”
Steinbrenner expressed satisfaction at the team’s off-season changes, which included trading catcher Gary Sanchez, shortstop Isiah Kenner-Falefa, the acquisition of third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Jose Trevino, and the addition of hitting coach Dillon Lawson. New York did not try to sign major free-agent shortstops like Carlos Correa or Trevor Storey.
“To be a great team, Jean Michel always used to say defense in the middle, isn’t it? It’s something we’ve definitely improved on,” Steinbrenner said, “I didn’t spend $300 million to do it, But I think most people are very happy with Isiah and the work she has done.”
As the August 2 trade deadline approaches, New York may be looking for a corner outfielder. Joy Gallo started in 194 batting on Wednesday with an average of .165, nine homers, 18 RBIs and 89 strikeouts.
“It’s been difficult for him, no doubt. But there’s a lot of baseball to be had this season.” Steinbrenner said, “I still expect great things from him. … I’m hesitant to leave the top prospects. I always have been. But we have done it in the past. And whatever will be on the table too.”
Steinbrenner expects the way to the title to include a matchup against Houston, who defeated the Yankees in the 2017 and 2019 AL Championship Series.
“We all need to be concerned about Houston. They are a very good team,” he said. “But it will be a challenge for them as well, make no mistake.”
He won’t mind a Subway series against the Mets, who entered the NL on Wednesday with a second-best record of 50-31.
“I’m all for it,” Steinbrenner said. “I mean I’ll be there.”
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