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Saturday, October 15, 2022

Agents, execs estimate the monstrous contract awaiting Aaron Judge

Yankees superstar Aaron Judge won the bet on himself, and won big. The consensus seems to be that the baseline deal Judge will get this winter is $300 million — or $86.5 million more than the Yankees offered in spring. And he may well get more.

Judge was seeking in spring to be in line with Mike Trout’s $36 million annual salary, according to sources, and now the early hints are that the Yankees may accede to his original asking price, and perhaps go even a bit higher. Some suggest he could even threaten Trout’s record $360 million total deal — though if he does, that may have to be elsewhere. The $300 million mark seems to be a more common guess (four agent guesses are below) but some see it going higher.

“He certainly will clear $300 million. But is he closer to $400 million than $300 million? Maybe,” one rival executive says. “He’s that important to the wealthiest team.”

The current belief is that the Yankees prefer not to go to $40 million a year — or certainly not to $400 million total for Judge, who is 30, as they recall the lengthy deals for 30-somethings Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols, and certainly their own Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees envision the main competition coming from the Giants and maybe the Cubs and Dodgers (though LA is known to prefer shorter deals at higher AAVs; Bryce Harper didn’t go for that when they tried $160 million for four). But of course, you never know in free agency.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2022 at 12:07 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: aaron judge

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   1. The Duke Posted: October 15, 2022 at 11:39 AM (#6100858)
Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt have really stunk up the joint in the playoffs. Have two MVPs ever had such atrocious post season luck? Both their teams may go down early as a result.
   2. DFA Posted: October 15, 2022 at 11:41 AM (#6100860)
$40 AAV over 8 years? I mean, would you want your team to go over that? I assume Judge will be easily clear $300M, but I cannot imagine that is going to end well. Last year, Freeman got 6 years at 32, Semien got 7 years at 31, Bryant 7 at 30. Seager got 10 at 27. Obviously Judge is the better player (11 WAR in 2022!), but Father Time remains undefeated.
   3. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2022 at 12:38 PM (#6100870)
Father Time did not beat Barry Bonds.
   4. cookiedabookie Posted: October 15, 2022 at 12:48 PM (#6100873)
Father Time did not beat Barry Bonds.

That was outside interference. Collusion smashed him over the head with a steel chair. I can still hear Good Ole JR's call.

As far as Judge goes, I'm thinking 8/304, or $38 million a year. Then I'd add a team option at 2/56, and a player option at 2/26.
   5. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 15, 2022 at 01:19 PM (#6100879)
As far as Judge goes, I'm thinking 8/304, or $38 million a year.

That's my guess as well. No extra options though.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: October 15, 2022 at 01:20 PM (#6100880)
#2 and #4 look about right to me, 8/288 to 8/320. That's a final contract prediction not necessarily a value prediction.
   7. The Duke Posted: October 15, 2022 at 01:24 PM (#6100883)
8/320 for me
   8. tshipman (The Viscount of Variance) Posted: October 15, 2022 at 04:36 PM (#6100911)
These estimates seem way off to me. Judge is clearly worth more than 40mm per year and he has maximal leverage to obtain it.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2022 at 04:38 PM (#6100913)
I feel with the labor deal behind us, teams are going to be big spenders. Good time to be a FA.
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 15, 2022 at 05:24 PM (#6100915)
8 years at ~ $40M per years is my guess, too. Maybe a bit more, or less, especially if Judge is inclined to bet on himself again, by having part of the last half of the contract tied to his MVP votes during that period. No real need for that, so probably unlikely.

Assuming Judge signs for at least $313.5M, he’ll have had a $100M season, as far as its impact on his future earnings. Not bad.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: October 15, 2022 at 10:54 PM (#6101008)
Judge is clearly worth more than 40mm per year

Based on? For how long?

Signing Judge for, say, 8/$320 is not to say that Judge does not project to be worth more than $40 M next year, it would mean he projects to be worth 30-40 WAR over the next 8 years (depending on where you want to peg your $/WAR guesstimate). Mike Trout is only about 8 months older -- he didn't get $40 AAV. Mookie is 6 months younger, he didn't get it. Happy birthday to Bryce Harper who is also 6 months younger and didn't get it. Of course Scherzer did get it but only on a 3-year deal; Bauer got it for two years.

He does have maximum leverage as you say and maybe teams are going to be big spenders ... surely the ones who meet/proceed the current threshold will continue with the new threshold. And of course real world inflation will drive up salaries ... unless of course the global recession drives down or at least stagnates salaries.

Nothing would surprise me (OK, accepting the QO would surprise me) and he does seem to have extra value for the Yanks
   12. tell me when i'm telling 57i66135 Posted: October 15, 2022 at 11:14 PM (#6101013)
5 years
1.2 billion dollars.
   13. John Reynard Posted: October 16, 2022 at 02:56 AM (#6101039)
I think Judge will leave NYY for SF and it'll be for less than $300M. The Steinbrenner kids are cheap compared to George.

I'll throw out 8-280 as my guess. No opt outs. Maybe a few escalators which can bring it up to 300M if he wins 2 more MVPs in SF and perhaps to 320 if he wins 4 more MVPs.

I think NYY not signing Judge before this year has led him to shop around and the Giants need a big signing after a disappointing 2022.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 16, 2022 at 10:11 AM (#6101054)
The Yankees will almost certainly match any realistic offer, and Judge has repeatedly stated his preference for remaining a Yankee, so I doubt he’s playing anywhere else, much less for $280M/8 years.
   15. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: October 16, 2022 at 02:34 PM (#6101089)
The Steinbrenner kids are cheap compared to George.
Gerrit Cole, of $324M/9 fame, says hi.
   16. John Northey Posted: October 16, 2022 at 03:10 PM (#6101093)
The big question is who is bidding? As long as 2 teams are he will get insane money. 3 or more and lord knows. I see the Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets as the big 3 here - all with unlimited money and owners willing to spend in the recent past. Wild cards are teams like the Rangers & Tigers who have spent in the past but probably won't go this far. Other big money teams Angels, Phillies, Cubs, Jays I don't see going nuts over Judge at the money it'll take. My guess is either an annual record or overall record. Fangraphs has Judge's year as being worth $91.5 million this year, $43.9 in 2021 with 2017-19 worth $70.6-$42.6-$36.4 respectively. So a $40 per deal isn't insane here. I could easily see a 5 year $45 per ($225 mil or $250 over 5 for $50 per) happening to break the annual record ($43.3 pitchers, $35.5 hitters) as no team will want to guarantee more than 5, or he could try for 10+/$430 to break Trout's record total dollars ($426 mil over 12). And he could end up being worth it is the insane thing (marketing alone will be nuts around him).
   17. TomH Posted: October 16, 2022 at 03:18 PM (#6101094)
I agree more with #16 than previous. Age risk, injury risk, history of long-term deals gone sour, I think teams pony up for max $$ per year and shorter deal. Plus maybe Judge wants to bet on himself again.

$49.5 mil per year for 2 years. So it comes to "99" total.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2022 at 03:31 PM (#6101099)
I've noted the difficulty of projecting Judge -- he's been a pretty consistent 8 WAR/650 player and there aren't many of those to compare to; he's huge so if you think size matters ther aren't many to compare to; if you think we should adjust for both performance and size, the pool of comps is much smaller (might just be Frank Thomas); unlike other huge guys, he's got solid speed and defensive value.

His best comp might be his teammate Stanton. Stanton was much better 20-24, he was a solid defender at least until age 30, he's big, he hits the ball harder than anybody but he's been not as productive in their common ages or over the last 3-5 years.

We could take Thomas as a size and hitting comp -- he missed nearly 2 full years of PT from 31-38 (about 460 PA per year), put up 33 Rbat/650 after 30. We can probably expect something closer to 40 from Judge plus he should top Thomas by 5-10 dWAR pretty easily. That would put Judge around 35 WAR over 8 years in Thomas's playing time so probably 40 with a more typical aging curve.

The kind of hitter Judge was this season does bring to mind McGwire, just destroying anything he could get his bat on. From 31-36, Mac averaged a whopping 70 Rbat/650 ... but missing a full seasonj's worth and essentially nothing for 37-38. Even this year, Judge had "only" 80 Rbat and he's never come close to 70 before so it seems unlikely he'll match Mac's offensive production. But he's also beating him by over 2 dWAR per year right now. If Judge could match Mac's offensive production, he'd be a 9-10 WAR player for at least the next few years. This seems an upside comp -- anyway, he would probably top 40 WAR within the first 6 years of the deal and so probably about 45 for 8 years.

The realistic downside of course is just that he gets hurt too much. Stanton has just 1200 PAs over the last 4 seasons -- that does include 2020 but he played fewer than half then. Judge also missed about half of 2020 and about 1/3 of 2019 and 2018. If he makes it to just 3000 PA over the next 8 years, that's one season less than Thomas and Judge probably moves earlier to DH (than a healthier Judge). If he's at 40 WAR playing one season more than Thomas, he'd be at about 30 WAR playing one season less.

So 30-45 WAR -- what's $150 M or so between friends?

Now anything in the range of 40 WAR "should" cost at least $320 M which would be $40 AAV. Arguably it should be $400 or even $450 M. So I suppose I won't be surprised by $40 or shocked by $45. But I thought Trout would crack $40 or come so close that it was obvious they were just insisting on holding the line at $40 ... but he didn't really even get close. Back in the day, some folks expected Harper to crack it but he didn't come close. I think some Red Sox fans thought Mookie might do it and, who knows, without the pandemic he still might have. I thought Correa might come close last year and I was off by a mile. It's obviously a very different sort of deal, but Tatis never gets more than $37 and that's still 7 years away.

Everybody knows what happend to Albert (19 WAR 31-38) and Cabrera (14) and Griffey (8) and Mantle (20) ... and not Aaron, Mays, Musial, Bonds, etc.

A "fair" deal (not that I expect either side to accept it) might be 4/$200 plus $35/$25/$25/$25 guaranteed with the last 4 salaries increased by $10 each if he had 600(?) PAs the previous year. That's 8/$310 with a max of 8/$350. Tweak the incentives so that it's $2 M for 500, another $3 for 550 and another $5 for 600 or similar. Give him an opt-out after the 4th year. Of course once you accept how much he's gonna cost, it might just be easier to give him 8/$330 with no option.

$/WAR ... never known, never quite clear how to estimate it. Paying a guy $40 M this year and $40 M 8 years from now are very different things. It would be nice if salaries were reported in realistic NPV terms but they aren't. Anyway, we've seen some short-term superstar contracts in the last few years and they seem to suggest that at least the short-term price for a win is only around $8-9. Scherzer has been about a 5.5 WAR/180 IP pitcher for 2019-21 and got 2/$87, pretty much exactly $8/WAR for what we might expect (and he gave them 5 in 140 this year). I'm not sure what the Dodgers were expecting out of Bauer but he averaged about 4.5/180 over 2018-20 and he was guaranteed 2/$82 which is about $9 per. The Twins got Correa for 1/$35 and he'd been a 4-WAR player in inconsistent playing time or a 6/650 player when healthy ... that's at most $9/WAR.

A win might be worth a lot more than that to teams but, if so, the players don't seem to have the leverage to grab that extra value (just like most of the rest of the world's industries). Maybe that's about to change and teams are looking to spend. The CBT is still only $233 M though -- that's up 6%(?) and goes up 1-2% each year but that's not enough to substantially push up $/WAR.

Still, you could use that number and argue Judge should be around 8/$360 ... at which point the Yanks might decide their CBT situation is easier to handle if they make it 10/$380 and, voila, the $40 M barrier is not broken. It was 11 years ago that Albert got his 10/$240 (thru 41); just 2 years after that (but not starting for 2 more years), Miggy got 8/$240 (thru 40). Seven years after the start of Miggy's contract, given stagnant attendance and a pandemic, 10/$380 does kinda sound like the new Pujols contract. Over 11 years that's not a big inflation rate but real inflation was quite low in that time and it seems in line with what Trout and Mookie got (plus short-term inflaction).

Anyway, we can argue that $/WAR should be higher than it is (and maybe is higher than those three contracts suggest) but I have a hard time arguing that Judge deserves a substantially bigger contract than Pujols, Miggy, Trout, Mookie and maybe evne less reason to expect him to get one even if he does deserve it. (Miggy and Trout were extensions which may have brought the price down.)
   19. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 16, 2022 at 04:55 PM (#6101101)
A win might be worth a lot more than that to teams but,....

I'm really looking forward to seeing how much he gets because as we have just witnessed in these playoffs, once you're in, an extra win or 5 doesn't seem all that valuable. Now that won't be the case every year, but we've just seen two 80+ win teams take down (3) 100+ and a 90+ win team and over in the AL, the 99 win team is in a spot of bother(though in the 2nd half, the Guardians have been the better squad so the overall win difference is a bit misleading)

For either the Yankees or Mets, a huge deal makes a ton of sense if you include all the marketing extras, I'm not overly convinced the Dodgers actually need to win more regular season games. I think a lot of teams will think that aiming for 85+ wins is going to be good enough most of the time and roll the dice in the playoffs.

How that plays out with respect to Judge and his new contract will be interesting to see.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2022 at 05:01 PM (#6101103)
as no team will want to guarantee more than 5

Why not? Sure, they won't "want to" much like you don't want to pay taxes but they will happily do so (unlike paying taxes). Freddie Freeman was a year older, not near Judge's quality but much better durability and he got 6 years through 37. Bryant got 7 years through 36, Springer got 6 through 36, Yelich, Arenado, Goldschmidt all 36. Seager and Semien through 37. Mookie's contract was just 2 years ago and he got through 39, Trout 38. It is still pretty much guaranteed that a star FA hitter gets through age 36 at a minimum, super-duper stars are more likely 38-39-40. I'm sure Judge would listen to 4/$200 or 5/$225 (and he might even prefer those to 8/$300) but otherwise you are getting laughed out of the room if you walk in with a 5-year offer.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: October 16, 2022 at 05:09 PM (#6101104)
But you can't aim for 85 wins, ya gotta aim for at least 90 if you're the Yanks, Dodgers, etc. so you have some wiggle room on 85. And the Yanks without Judge are maybe a 90-win team so they'll definitely be spending money on somebody. And whoever gets Judge adds a few wins and if they're in the AL then that cuts into the Yanks' chances. I agree, Judge on the Dodgers would be kinda overkill ... but they've got Bauer money coming free soon so they've got cash, Trea Turner might be gone, they were cobbling together parts of the lineup this year, etc. Now they'll probably just re-sign Turner then find a good 3B or LF or CF rather than Judge.

But yeah, a Padres-Phils NLCS was not what I was looking forward to.
   22. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 16, 2022 at 05:35 PM (#6101106)
But you can't aim for 85 wins, ya gotta aim for at least 90 if you're the Yanks, Dodgers, etc. so you have some wiggle room on 85

Sure, I understand that. I'm curious to see though if that maybe takes a potential bidder out of the running or not. I'm pretty convinced he'll just end up back on the Yankees on something like 8/310-325 type of thing and we'll never know if this years early playoff results had any bearing on the decision making.
   23. John Northey Posted: October 16, 2022 at 07:07 PM (#6101108)
I think it depends also on how one plans for the playoffs - maximum value from minimum players. Yeah, Judge isn't having a great playoff but he is the type who can carry a team through a playoff round. If you have a few of those then you just need 1 or 2 to be on to keep moving along. But if you have a solid top to bottom team you might be more at risk as playoffs are best vs best often. Your 4th starter, backups all matter less and less once it hits the post season (things that helped the Dodgers a lot over 162 but did nada in a 5 game set). Your top 3 relievers, your top 3 starters, your 9 everyday hitters are vital. The rest fills in the gaps during the season but focus too much on those and you'll not have the stars for post-season. This is the lesson learned by the NHL, and NBA in their marathon playoffs. Now MLB has to learn it.
   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 18, 2022 at 03:02 PM (#6106094)
The Yankees have made an offer to Aaron Judge. Details unknown, but I suspect it’s sufficient to get most of the tire-kickers out of the action.
   25. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: November 18, 2022 at 03:10 PM (#6106098)
Cashman confirmed last night that he made an offer and no details have leaked? Interesting.
   26. Adam Starblind Posted: November 18, 2022 at 04:15 PM (#6106107)
“He certainly will clear $300 million. But is he closer to $400 million than $300 million? Maybe,” one rival executive says. “He’s that important to the wealthiest team.”

The Mets?
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 18, 2022 at 05:05 PM (#6106109)
The Mets may have the wealthiest owner, but they are only the 6th most valuable MLB franchise, according to the Forbes ranking, which is largely based on revenue. We all know who is #1.
   28. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: November 18, 2022 at 06:13 PM (#6106117)
The Mets may have the wealthiest owner, but they are only the 6th most valuable MLB franchise,
Leave Dave Cameron alone!
   29. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 08, 2022 at 02:07 PM (#6108751)
Bumped, just to note that predictions here, as elsewhere, were mostly too low.

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