Your attention, please. Aaron Judge, superstar outfielder, masher of baseballs, and owner of an offensive season that is rarely seen outside of Barry Bonds’ historical documents, is meeting with the San Francisco Giants.
The news comes to us via reporter Jon Morosi, with an assist from a hotel-dwelling sleuth.
Breaking news into @MLBNetwork, via video from San Francisco: Aaron Judge has arrived in the city and is expected to meet with the #SFGiants this week. Join us on #MLBNHotStove at 9 am ET tomorrow for the latest. @MLB pic.twitter.com/pq0at6kgQ6— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 22, 2022
This shouldn’t be surprising. A free agent whom 30 teams would love to employ is meeting with a large market team that has money to spend and has made their interest in him very public. Also, cheese is good and Elon Musk is a jackass. Like and follow for more breaking news.
But I think we should overanalyze it. 90% because that’s the fun thing to do, and 10% because Judge seems like a unique case and yes, that 10% is an overanalyzation as well.
Judge meeting with the Giants is (potentially) a big deal, because all of the smoke and all of the reporting suggests that he’ll either return home to the Giants, or return to the team he’s called home, the New York Yankees.
It’s rarely ever that straightforward. There will likely be more complexities. Third and fourth teams. Mystery teams, Weird offers for things like three years and $150 million. The Los Angeles Dodgers.
But let’s ignore that for a moment. The way I see it, there are three likely scenarios for Judge, with all of those backroads being unlikely options that you can’t fully exclude.
Scenario 1: Judge wants to sign with the Yankees, and signs with the Yankees.
Scenario 2: Judge wants to sign with the Giants, and signs with the Giants.
Scenario 3: Judge wants to sign with the Yankees, who again lowball him, and then he signs with the Giants.
Your heart tells you that two of those three scenarios end with Judge wearing orange and black. Your brain reminds you that the one scenario that doesn’t is still the clear favorite.
But that’s why this meeting is (potentially) a big deal. Because it’s one data point that the first scenario isn’t happening.
If you believe all the reports, Judge is not to drag things on, play both sides, and eke out every last dollar. Some free agents that want to return to their team will hit the market, drive up their price, feign interest elsewhere, and finally return home. Judge does not sound like one of those people. Maybe it’s his kindness and loyalty. Maybe it’s the way he’s avoided drama and spotlights. Maybe it’s the ludicrous tax bracket he’ll be entering sometime in the next few weeks or months.
Whatever it is, I feel (potentially) confident asserting that if Judge entered the offseason wanting to stay with the Yankees, and with the Yankees willing to pay him what he deserves, that he would not have met with the Giants or any other team. A trip to meet with San Francisco brass doesn’t mean we can take a red pen to Scenario 1, but it does mean we can raise our eyebrows at it, and assume that things have not gone the way that Yankees fans hoped they would go.
Even if Judge were leaning towards Scenario 2, it’s not that simple. The Giants might be his Nigerian prince, offering him something wonderful without any evidence suggesting they can deliver. Judge might want to play for a great team in San Francisco, the way I want to inherit $8 million from someone I never knew existed.
The newly-minted MVP has made it clear he wants a chance to win. The Giants need to make it clear that they have a path towards doing that. If they want to offer him $350 million and Trea Turner, Carlos Rodón, and Mitch Haniger, I will sign off on it. Just FYI. Then maybe they can focus on getting me that $8 million. Bickering over those specifics seems more likely than going back and forth negotiating a price, as The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly recently wrote that, “My stock answer to the Judge question is that if he wants to be a Giant, he’ll receive a compelling enough offer to sign with the Giants.”
Only time will tell if Judge is in San Francisco to iron out the remaining contract details, to listen skeptically while Farhan Zaidi outlines a path to contention, or to merely say hello on his way to visit family for the holidays.
But he’s in San Francisco, when he could have done what Clayton Kershaw repeatedly does, and re-signed with his team without falsely professing interest elsewhere. And that’s certainly not bad news.