MLB free agency: The 3 riskiest players set to receive massive contracts

Oct 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out against the Cleveland Guardians during the seventh inning in game two of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out against the Cleveland Guardians during the seventh inning in game two of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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1. Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees
Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

I am probably going to get roasted like a stuffed pig at a luau for this one. Don’t worry, I am ready for it. New York Yankee fans are not known for lacking passion.

Aaron Judge had a pretty good season in case you are coming out of a coma. He hit a very large amount of home runs. In fact, he hit the seventh most all time in a single MLB season. Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Howard, and Alex Rodriguez are all in the top 16 of that list. That holds relevance because every one of those players received an awful contract for the organization that signed them shortly after those seasons.

Am I saying that everyone who hits a lot of home runs is bound to bust? No, I am establishing precedence for them to receive contracts that they don’t live up to.

Clemens projects Judge to receive a 9-year, $315 Million contract, at a $35 Million AAV. That will put Judge at the doorstep of 40 years old, making $35 million.

Besides Judge’s first full season, and his most recent season, he has not exceeded a WAR of 5.5. Heading into 2019 Mike Trout received an extension similar to Judge’s projection, and he had 7 seasons with a WAR higher than 6.4.

Teams will be paying Judge to have numerous seasons of receiving top-3 MVP votes, and frankly, I don’t see that happening. My internal alarms start going off whenever a player doubles his average output in a contract season. There are success stories, but there are also very many failure stories.

The other layer of this is the fact that I expect Judge to exceed the projected contract. Since Clemens wrote his projections, the Dodgers have emerged as a potential suitor after not tending a contract to Cody Bellinger. Also of note, they do not have an alleged agreement to not pursue Judge as the Mets do.

Three teams that are sure to be in the Judge sweepstakes include the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants. Those are three storied franchises with deep pockets. That is also not to mention the mystery MLB teams that always seem to pop up and make surprise bids.

Next. Top 25 MLB free agents this offseason. dark

I firmly believe there will be seasons in which Judge earns his salary, but I believe the seasons in which he doesn’t earn it will be much more plentiful.