Yankees update on Aaron Judge: There will be no updates

Wednesday was the midpoint of the Yankees’ 2022 season. Through 81 games, not only did they have the best record (58-23) in Major League Baseball, but they were also on pace to match the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners for the most wins (116) in 162 games. Game regular season.

One of the biggest reasons for the Yankees’ success is outfielder Aaron Judge. Entering Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh, he led MLB with 29 home runs, was fifth in on-base plus slugging percentage at .972 and tied for sixth in wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs.

However, Judge’s future has hung with the Yankees all season. A longtime Yankee who says he wants to stay in pinstripes, Juji will be eligible for free agency for the first time in his career after the season. Despite the Yankees’ efforts to sign him to a long-term extension before the start of the regular season, he will be allowed to — and has indicated — talk to all 30 teams over the winter. But before that, he said he doesn’t want to negotiate.

“Whatever happens during the season, we’re not going to provide any updates,” said Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ general partner, during a video call with reporters on Wednesday.

“We’re just not going to do it,” he continued. “I totally agree with Aaron and still agree that there can be no distraction in any way, shape or form. The only focus is winning the championship. That’s what everyone should be worried about right now.”

Before the season, Steinbrenner authorized the front office to offer Judge an extension that would have guaranteed him $213.5 million over seven years. Regardless of the season Jug has had — he’s on pace for a 2017 season in which he won the American League Rookie of the Year award and was the runner-up for Most Valuable Player — and how his price has risen. Steinbrenner said he has no regrets about rejecting the Yankees’ offer.

He said the team’s proposal was “very good” and based on the numbers and “what it means to this organization.” Because of a labor dispute with players over the winter, Steinbrenner said the lockout cut short the time the Yankees could negotiate with Judge before the season.

However, Steinbrenner said the team will have discussions with the judge after the season. He said he hoped the judge, who turned 30 in April, would stay on board, but “there’s a lot of discussion to be had.”

“He was phenomenal,” Steinbrenner later added.

A World Series win, the Yankees’ first since 2009, could help Judge’s case for a record contract for the outfielder. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, 30, a three-time ALMVP, will average $35.5 million per year through 2030.

Despite entering the season with many questions about whether they had done enough to improve, the Yankees were the best team in baseball. Outside of righty Gerrit Cole and lefty Nestor Cortez, the pitching rotation was the backbone of the roster. The bullpen has found stability in Clay Holmes and Michael King while Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton and Jonathan Loaisiga have suffered injuries.

But the biggest improvements have been to the lineup (especially a reduced strikeout rate) and defense, replacing catcher Gary Sanchez with Jose Trevino and Gleyber Torres with Issah Kiner-Falef and moving Torres to second base.

“I didn’t spend $300 million on it, but I think most people are pretty happy with him and the job he’s done,” Steinbrenner said, likely referring to the team’s record payroll for luxury tax purposes of $259 million, which trails the Mets ($288 million ) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($302 million). Steinbrenner faced criticism in the offseason for holding on to top prospects and not signing a prized free agent shortstop like Corey Seager or Carlos Correa.

“I knew we had a team that was capable of great things, but I’m not going to sit here and say I absolutely knew they were going to get off to the historic start that they are,” Steinbrenner said. He called the team special not only on the field, but also in the club.

Steinbrenner also pointed to new members of manager Aaron Boone’s coaching staff — specifically hitting coach Dillon Lawson — as the main reasons this season was better for the Yankees, who were 92-70 in 2021 and fell to the Boston Red Sox in the AL. wild-card game. After a below-average rating last season, the Yankees’ offense (five runs per game) trails only the Dodgers (5.04 runs per game) in scoring this year.

As for potential ways to strengthen the roster before the Aug. 2 trade deadline, Steinbrenner said he hasn’t sat down with the front office yet. He said the team could never have enough pitching, and he reiterated his reluctance to trade top prospects.

Steinbrenner predicted his team could face the Houston Astros, who won the 2017 World Series title and have been a tough playoff contender ever since. He also dreamed of the entire New York World Series with the Mets, who were one of the best teams in the National League.

“It’s good to have two good teams and boy is that what we have,” he said. “And to meet in the postseason, I’m all for it. That means I’ll be there.”

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