According to the latest MLB team news Aaron Judge is brought back by the Yankees, and they bet that history won’t repeat itself. With a nine-year, $360 million contract that lasts through his age-39 season, Aaron Judge’s wager on himself from last winter has paid off. Bringing back Judge will benefit the Yankees more than any other single action in the short term, but due to Judge’s size and the general decline of position players in their mid-to late-30s, the Yankees will have a difficult time with this contract in the long run.
Good players are underpaid up until that point due to baseball’s long-standing rule that prohibits them from signing a free agent contract until they have at least six years of major league experience; however, these contracts often make up for it by guaranteeing the player’s salary for years after their production has likely started to decline. Teams simply accept this as the price of doing business in free agency; they simply assume the last year or two will likely be unpleasant and spread the expense over the entire transaction.
Trea Turner’s contract with the Phillies accomplishes this by lasting 11 years but at a low enough average yearly value ($27.2 million) that even if you consider the contract to be an eight-year agreement, it is affordable considering his anticipated output throughout that time.
However, judge’s contract defies that kind of justification since, in addition to the financial considerations, the history of players similar to him indicates that he is incredibly unlikely to produce at a star level and maintain his health even halfway through this contract. The contract spans Judge’s 31st through his 39th season. Few hitters 6 feet 7 inches or taller have even made it to the majors, and of those who have, none has continued to produce after age 34.
After the age of 30, only Richie Sexson twice and Frank Howard four times have even reached 400 plate appearances in a season. Only three players have attained 400 plate appearances, even if we lower the bar somewhat to 6-6: Dave Winfield (10 times!), Dave Kingman (twice), and Giancarlo Stanton (once, in 2021). This news has also been a part of the latest NBA news. This latest nba news has left no stone unturned to make history repeat itself and this MLB team news has brought a ray of hope and enthusiasm among the team members.
Since his MVP season at age 27 in 2018, Stanton has struggled with his health and has been much less productive. He has missed nearly all of 2019, half of the already cut-short 2020 season, and 72 more games in the subsequent two seasons, with 2022 being the worst season of his career. Weights are difficult because players’ claimed weights aren’t usually correct, but Miguel Cabrera is the only player who has a listed weight of 260 pounds or more to have two seasons with at least 5 WAR after turning 30. He did this at the ages of 31 and 33. (His 260 pounds aren’t quite the same as Judge’s 282 pounds, though.
We haven’t yet encountered any unicorns, so if you’re telling me that Aaron Judge is one—a player who, despite his size and height, will age well and maintain his health into his mid-30s—you might be right. Thus, this nine-year, $360 million deal could actually only be productive for four or five of its nine years, with the remaining years serving as a sort of deferred salary that lessens the luxury tax hit. The judge’s expected salary for the ensuing five years is $72 million. Although the dollar amount may seem absurd, he was that in 2022.
Only Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle had better seasons as hitters since integration than he did, according to FanGraphs’ version of WAR, and he was the best player in baseball overall.
Even Willie Mays, who could make a case for being the greatest player in MLB history, never had an 11 fWAR season, but Judge did. The judge was only paid $19 million for a such performance last year, despite the fact that such high production from a single roster position is extremely valuable—possibly more so than some simple $/WAR figures suggest. The judge only had one other season in which he contributed at this level; prior to that, from 2017 to 2022, he had two seasons with a WAR value of between 5 and 6 and an overall value of 8.7.
If you assume he will produce 5 to 6 WAR on average for the duration of the deal, or roughly half of it, until age 35, the contract would seem expensive but not excessive. However, even if none of them would have the same effect as adding Judge would have had on the Giants’ 2023 squad, there are still plenty of possibilities available.