Over the offseason, Aaron Judge was the biggest free agent who was out there. One of the teams that he visited was the San Francisco Giants. They were considered a team that was going to go all-in to land the 6-foot-7 power hitter. In the end, to a surprise to very few, Judge returned to the New York Yankees by signing a nine-year, $360 million contract.
In a scheduling irony, San Francisco opened the 2023 regular season in the Bronx against Judge and the Yankees. In the three-game series, Judge gave the Giants and their fans a look at what could have been as New York won two out of the three games.
Aaron Judge begins 2023 where he left off in 2022 for the Yankees
One year after hitting 62 home runs, the Yankees centerfielder wasted no time to begin his chase to top that mark when he homered off of Logan Webb in his first at-bat of 2023.
That was just the beginning for Judge to show the Giants what could have been for nearly the next decade in the Bay area. He went 6-for-13 with four RBI and three runs scored. In the series finale on Sunday, he hit his second home run of the season, this time off of Ross Stripling.
Putting Judge into the San Francisco lineup would have been a game-changer in the NL West for the Giants. The San Diego Padres added Xander Bogaerts in free agency and the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be battling the Padres for the top spot in the division. The Giants are going to be chasing down those two teams all summer and, if Judge decided to change uniforms, it could have been the difference-maker for San Francisco.
Defensively, Judge would have slid right into the Giants’ outfield and even given some at-bats as a DH. Nothing against LaMonte Wade, Jr., Mike Yastrzemski, or Michael Conforto, but it would have been easy for the Giants to find a spot in the outfield for Judge, who has already played center and right for manager Aaron Boone in the first three games.
It was a gut-wrenching offseason for San Francisco and their fans, who not only lost out on Judge, but also went through the Carlos Correa saga where the Giants thought that he was going to be their shortstop of the future. Instead, they were left disappointed that neither player will be in manager Gabe Kapler’s lineup after Correa ended up going back to the Minnesota Twins.
In the end, there was no surprise when Judge returned to New York with his new contract and most likely play his entire career in the Bronx. If he was going to go land anywhere else, it most likely would have been in San Francisco, which would have had to blow Judge out of the water with a deal, something that they easily would have done to land the 2022 home run king. The Giants got a first-hand and up-close look on opening weekend at what could have been if Judge decided to sign in Northern California.