In time, the Yankees will make a multi-year investment in the face of their team. A move to first base now must be in the plan for Mr. Judge.
The Yankees will soon need to turn their attention to a timeline of contractual events to keep their team’s face in a Yankee uniform for the next X number of years.
Aaron Judge has reached arbitration status, and for the first time, he will be on equal footing with the Yankees regarding his salary for 2021. Come 2023; Judge will be eligible to file for free agency.
The Yankees can go year to year with Judge by following the arbitration process or attempting to sign him to an extension now or at any point before 2023.
The proverbial elephant in the room, though, is Judge’s inability to refrain from injuries that had seen his regular-season games in a rapid decline since his break-out 2017 year when he appeared in 155 games, to 112, then 102, and finally to only 28 games in 2020.
If not for Judge’s health issues, a contract extension is a no-brainer for the Yankees. A fan favorite, charismatic, intelligent, clean-cut, Judge has it all as a person, not to mention the All-Star credentials he brings to the team on the playing field.
But since that auto-heal button isn’t there, and because no one can predict the future, it behooves the Yankees to do everything they can to place Judge in situations where the likelihood of injury is lessened.
Cringe as you watch this video and then ask yourself why the Yankees would allow this to go on any longer.
Yankees: What Are They Waiting For – Another Injury?
By now, you probably know where I’m going with this. Aaron Judge needs to move from the outfield to first base – STAT.
No more diving plays, crashing into walls, and running at full speed to chase down balls in the gap.
The more I think about it, the angrier I am with the Yankees for letting this go as long as it has.
A Yankees Decision – What About Luke Voit
Of course, that is a good question – what about Luke Voit, the American League leader in home runs and second in RBI this year?
Luke Voit does not appear to be the type of player who can be moved to another position. Occasionally, he has all to do with just playing first base. So, that’s out as an option.
The Yankees could install Voit as the DH two or three times a week while using him at first base for a game to relieve Judge.
The next and most obvious option is for the Yankees to trade Luke Voit. His value has never been higher, and who knows, maybe it’ll never be this high again.
With that value plus another player, the Yankees can bargain for a proven starting pitcher to add to their rotation.
For example (only), Lance Lynn (right), who led the league in starts (13) and innings pitched (84), fits the Yankees nicely.
Yes, Yes, I know – what do the Yankees want with another 33-year-old veteran – let alone someone coming back for another try?
Well, think of it this way. Masahiro Tanaka‘s return is in free-agent limbo. Luis Severino will not be available until June at the earliest, J. A. Happ and James Paxton are histories, and the status of the wife-beater is uncertain.
With regards to Luke Voit, it’s the old saying about trade-making in baseball. You have to give up something to get something (of value).
Voit can leave the Yankees in good standing and knowing they were the team who gave him his chance after sputtering in the Cardinals organization.
In any event, this is all about Aaron Judge and no one else.
Yankees: Get The Ball Rolling – Now!
As far as we know, Aaron Judge is healthy, and surely, he is fully rested.
Judge, always ready for a new challenge, will eat the move up, and if the Yankees don’t ask him, you’ll see him wandering down to Tampa to begin the task of learning a new position.
Why not send him to Tampa for two or three weeks ASAP while the minor leaguers are gathering for a mini-instruction camp? Take the holidays off, spend another couple of weeks in January, and before you know it, it’s time for spring training.
For me, it’s a no-brainer for the Yankees to get Judge away from the outfield. Guess we’ll see…