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How Much Should the Yankees Pay Aaron Judge?

The slugger is one of the most dominant players in the game—but only when he’s healthy.

August 13, 2016. Aaron James Judge. In his first big league at-bat, the Yankees rookie outfielder hit a home run. From that moment, it was just a matter of time until Judge became the next big thing in baseball. When the Yankees chose him in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft, many knew that he would be a star in no time.

In 2017, the second-year player took the league by storm in what was his first full season in the MLB. He took home the American League Rookie of the Year honors, but it was also arguably the best rookie season in sports history. The team had a mediocre roster. However, thanks to Judge hitting a league-high 52 home runs, the team made the playoffs with 91 wins. Unfortunately, after defeating the Twins in the Wildcard game and the Indians in the ALDS, the Yankees fell short to the eventual champion Astros in the ALCS.


Since then, Judge has been one of baseball's top 10 to 12 players every year. However, his inability to stay healthy in recent years has raised some concern about whether or not he is worth as much money as the Judge is asking to receive.

There are 162 games in a baseball season. In 2018, Judge played just 112 out of them, meaning he missed nearly a third. In 2019, he played only 102 games. In a COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, Judge played in less than half of the team’s games. Though Judge has performed at an elite level while on the field, is that enough for him to deserve the massive contract he is asking for?

Two months into his sixth season in the league, Judge has hit 179 home runs. That's an average of around 30 a season and is even more impressive when you factor in all the games he didn't play in.

Before the 2022 season, contract talks between the Yankees and Judge were heating up. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman offered the star outfielder a contract that would pay Judge $30.5 million dollars a year for seven years. In my opinion, that seemed to be a pretty fair contract for Judge. However, Judge demanded more, and contract talks are still going on.

So far this season, Judge is leading the majors in home runs with 18. The Yankees currently have the best record in baseball, at 46–16, but most of their success wouldn't happen without Judge, as the bottom of their order is in a funk. Joey Gallo is hitting just .186 on the season, and catcher Kyle Higashoika has been even worse, hitting .177. Since the bottom half of the team's order is struggling, the top of the order needs to come through, led by Judge.

In the thick of contract talks, Judge’s camp has been asking for a 10-year, $360 million contract. That’s a bit much, in my opinion, because of his glaring health issues. Players receiving over $300 million in their contracts include Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Fernando Tatis Jr. Do I think Judge is on the same level as them? No, but he is pretty close.

I would give Judge an eight-year, $256 million dollar contract. If he keeps up the pace he is playing at for the rest of the year, he will deserve more. Of course, the deal would still be a ton of money, but it is a reasonable amount that Judge deserves.