11:54am: Judge and the Yankees have agreed to a $19MM guarantee, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter links). That’s the exact midpoint between the filing figures, although the deal contains additional possible incentives. Judge would make an additional $250K each were he to win the AL MVP and World Series MVP awards this season.
11:35am: The Yankees and Aaron Judge have agreed to a contract to avoid arbitration, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (Twitter link). They’d been slated to go through a hearing this afternoon, but the last-minute settlement dodges that necessity.
Judge and the Yankees had been set to proceed through the process with the largest gap in filing figures between any player-team pairing this season. Judge’s camp had filed for a $21MM salary, while the Yankees countered at $17MM. MLB’s arbitration system doesn’t permit adjudicators to land on a midpoint; had they gone to a hearing, the arbitrators would’ve had to set Judge’s salary at either $17MM or $21MM. By avoiding the process, the parties can come together at a mutually-agreeable middle ground. That avoids any potential acrimony arising in an adversarial hearing for the face of the franchise.
This was the final season of arbitration-eligibility for Judge, who’s a few months away from his first trip to the open market. He turned down a seven-year, $213.5MM extension offer during Spring Training. Betting on himself looks as if it’ll pay off handsomely, as the slugger will be arguably the top talent available.
Judge topped MLBTR’s initial Power Ranking of the upcoming class a month ago, and he’s mashed at a .288/.369/.606 clip since that point. He enters play Friday owner of a .302/.379/.663 line overall, and his 27 home runs are six clear of anyone else in the game. He’s set to hit free agency in advance of his age-31 campaign and looks to be on track for an eight-plus year deal if he continues performing at an elite level for the season’s final three-plus months.
As most are probably aware by now, Judge’s incredible 2022 production would not have been admissible in his arbitration case. The arb process typically takes place over the offseason, with salaries decided in advance of Opening Day. Last winter’s lockout froze league business for over three months, leaving insufficient time for players, teams and arbitrators themselves to sort out all the cases during Spring Training. Hearings thus lingered into the season, but MLB and the Players Association agreed that all cases had to based on the player’s pre-2022 body of work.
Judge, of course, had a robust career track record even before this season’s MVP-caliber first half. He entered the year a career .276/.386/.554 hitter, collecting a trio of All-Star appearances and two Silver Slugger awards in the process. The Fresno State product hit .287/.373/.544 with 39 homers and 98 runs batted in last season, a platform performance that’d set him up for a lofty raise relative to his $10.175MM salary from 2021.
The resolution of Judge’s case officially closes the books on the 2021-22 arbitration class. 31 players had situations that lingered into the season, although the majority reached in-season agreements or multi-year contract extensions. Of the 13 players who proceeded to hearings this season, four won their case, according to the Associated Press.