After a leisurely start to free agency, the MLB offseason is finally kicking into high gear with a flurry of activity including deals signed by former NL batting champ Trea Turner (headed to Philly for a reunion with Bryce Harper) and reigning American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, the latter filling the void left by Jacob deGrom in the Mets’ starting rotation. The Yankees weren’t a major player in either of those negotiations, instead allotting their time and resources to Aaron Judge ahead of his highly anticipated arrival at this week’s Winter Meetings.
There will be hell to pay if the Yankees somehow lose Judge to San Francisco, which, after a productive meeting with Giants brass over Thanksgiving, is seen as a very real possibility. With all eyes on Judge (the Yankees are said to have increased their offer to eight years, $300 million, a noticeable improvement on their earlier offer of seven years, $213.5 million prior to Opening Day), the Bombers decided today, of all days, to announce GM Brian Cashman’s four-year extension. The timing couldn’t have been worse with fans ridiculing the Yankees for prioritizing their top executive over a player who, just two months prior, set the American League’s single-season home run record (62) en route to becoming New York’s first MVP recipient in 15 years.
It will be a colossal failure if the Yankees fall short in their pursuit of Judge, a transcendent star in the prime of his career and among the greatest homegrown talents they’ve ever produced. The irony is that, if Judge does end up leaving, fans will inevitably blame Cashman, holding him responsible, not only for his failed negotiations but allowing Judge to reach free agency, showing little urgency in their earlier extension talks. Of course, all will be forgiven if Cashman ponies up the necessary funds to keep Judge, allowing the All-Star outfielder to finish his career in New York. If not, he may have to go into witness protection, which is about all that can shield him from Yankees fans’ rage.