David Samson says Yankees ‘didn’t get better’ with Judge signing: ‘No one in the industry thinks this is a reasonable deal’


After a rollercoaster 12 hours that had all of social media tweeting about arson (call it the “autocorrect heard ‘round the world”), the Yankees’ single-season home-run king Aaron Judge is back, presumably for good, returning to the Big Apple on a nine-year, $360-million contract that should allow him to finish his Hall-of-Fame career in pinstripes. Along with being one of baseball’s most prodigious powers hitters, Judge, as we’ve witnessed over the past month, is a hell of a negotiator, using the Giants and, to a lesser extent, the Padres as leverage.

If Brian Cashman had any hair left on his head, he surely would have pulled it out waiting for Judge’s decision, experiencing a lifetime of existential dread over one sleepless night at the San Diego Grand Hyatt. But it all worked out with Judge, despite receiving equal or better offers from the Padres and Giants, deciding his heart was still with the Yankees, returning to the Bronx to finish what he started. Yankees fans can take their victory lap, but former MLB executive David Samson, best known for his 16-year stint as Marlins team president, would caution them not to get too excited, expressing doubts that Judge, given his age and injury history, will live up to his enormous contract.

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“This is a five-year player. Aaron Judge is not going to be good for nine years,” said Samson, host of Nothing Personal, a daily podcast produced by CBS Sports. “He’s not going to have 62 home runs a year the next nine years. It’s not going to work that way.”

An eternal pessimist known for his cynical worldview (particularly when it comes to sports), it may seem like Samson is trying to rain on the Yankees’ parade, though, in this instance, his concerns are more than justified. Deals of this length almost never age well (just look at the back half of recent contracts signed by Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera) and Judge’s towering 6’7,” 282-pound frame makes him uniquely susceptible to injury.

It should also be noted, Judge turns 31 in April, which is significantly older than Bryce Harper and Manny Machado (both 26) were when they reached free agency in 2019. Overpaying for Judge will be worth it if the Yankees end up winning a World Series. If not, the Yankees, in 4-5 years, could find themselves mired in luxury tax hell, unable to move Judge’s albatross contract while stuck with a declining player well past his prime.

“There was such pressure to keep their own player they gave him $40 [million] a year for nine [years]. No one in the industry thinks this is a reasonable deal,” said Samson, a regular contributor to The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “The Yankees didn’t get better today. They just didn’t get worse.”

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