It’s no secret that the New York Yankees are hoping to keep Aaron Judge in pinstripes. However, the cost to keep him in the Bronx may back the franchise into a corner when it comes to the roster and payroll for next season and beyond.
Will the cost to keep Aaron Judge be the only potential free agent splash for the New York Yankees in 2023?
Speaking on WFAN on Wednesday morning, New York Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch said the cost to bring Judge back to the Bronx may mean that the Yankees will choose between resigning the MVP candidate or using that money to make multiple upgrades to the roster.
“If you are going to sign Judge, I don’t see how they can do more than that [in free agency] and still stay under these payroll constraints that they’re giving themselves,” Hoch said, referring to the Yankees hoping to not cross the competitive tax threshold year after year.
You can listen to the entire interview here.
Hoch estimates that Judge will “be getting $300 million-plus” in terms of an annual contract and “upwards of $40 million a year.” Spotrac is estimating that Judge will earn a eight-year, $303 million deal, while agent Leigh Steinberg recently said Judge’s contract could be a $500 million deal.
Without that in the system, New York already has three contracts of over $20 million on the books for next season (Gerrit Cole at $36 million, Giancarlo Stanton at $32 million, and Josh Donaldson at $21 million).
In all, New York has just over $150 million on the active payroll for next season with six guaranteed contracts (totaling just under $120 million) and a pair of options in Anthony Rizzo ($16 million, player) and Luis Severino ($15 million, club). Add that in with the 14 players that New York has heading to arbitration and you not only get a good idea of the roster that could be in place for next season, but also how much it will cost (just over $170 million with all of those figures) to field that team.
With the competitive balance tax threshold for next season set at $233 million, Judge’s $40 million contract could fit the Yankees under that … but there’s not much room for improvements outside of that. If the number goes above $40 million, well, you can see where New York’s worries might lie in making Judge happy and building up other pieces of the roster.
Keeping Judge is a priority for the Yankees, but so is improving a team that was swept out of the ALCS by the Houston Astros. In the end, it may come down to a choice that could impact the franchise for years to come.