We must confront the unthinkable. Because the unthinkable isn’t impossible. Not quite, anyway.
No one thought Freddie Freeman and the Braves would divorce, yet they did. Free agency isn’t always predictable. Of course, it only makes sense for the player who matched The Babe to remain in the house that Ruth built (technically, that one was the one torn down but you get the point). Aaron Judge benefits from being a Yankee. And yes, the Yankees benefit more; they have the highest revenues in the game, and no good reason not to keep Judge in pinstripes.
The Yankees also know their number has to rise precipitously off his record-setting season, from $213.5 million to $300 million or so. They love him (what’s not to love?) and want him but also believe they are the best option. On The Post podcast “The Show,” Yankees president Randy Levine said they’d make an “extraordinarily competitive” offer.
But will it be enough? Is it possible he was so insulted by the original offer, or so annoyed by the Yankees making it public that he will seriously entertain leaving? Beyond winning perennially, one big thing the Yankees do have going for them is that it benefits him to stay. With the history he made this year, that point was made without a word spoken.
Anyway, here’s the latest, best guess where Judge may land (with odds).
The Yankees “have to” keep Judge, says a rival. He played as practically a one-man band in the second half, taking his season into the realm of the all-time great. Even among some rivals, the hope is that he stays “for the good of the game.” The best, they say, should remain on the biggest stage. Maybe MLB should institute a franchise tag in the future to prevent moves that hurt the game. Odds to stay: 1-5 (83 percent chance).
The Yankees saw his hometown team as the threat, and they tried for Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton. Tough park for a clean power hitter. Odds to go: 20-1 (5 percent).
The Dodgers have Trea Turner to try to re-sign, and Judge grew up a Giants fan, but the Dodgers appreciate greatness and love short-term big-money deals. They tried $160 million over four years for Harper. How about $225 million for five? Odds to go: 30-1 (3 percent).
Pitching is their real winter concern. Plus, it’s an era of good feeling between Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner and it’s hard to see Cohen risking that, even for Judge, when he has Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo, Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassitt to sign. Odds to go: 35-1 (<3 percent).
They came up short for Mookie Betts and underbid for Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. While Red Sox go to the Yankees (see Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon) few go the other way. Odds to go: 50-1 (2 percent)
They are trying for pitching (see deGrom), but if they fail, might they try to bludgeon folks? Big spenders. Odds to go: 75-1 (<2 percent).
They are promising to spend, but it goes against their nature. Long shot. Odds to go: 150-1 (<1 percent)
Hard to imagine others, but who saw Carlos Correa going to the Twins? Odds to go: 100-1 (1 percent).