The New York Yankees were unable to sign star outfielder Aaron Judge to an extension last winter, meaning that he is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career. Could this have an impact on the offseason plans for the SF Giants?
Report: SF Giants could be a landing spot for Yankees slugger
Jon Heyman of the NY Post believes that the power-hitting outfielder could be a potential fit for the Giants in the offseason. Judge will have plenty of suitors, but the Giants could make sense due in part to geography:
"The Giants are seen as another potential landing spot for Aaron Judge, who grew up a Giants fan. Though they specialize in bargains, they did make a spirited attempt for Bryce Harper, finishing second to Philadelphia"- Jon Heyman
Since Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations, the Giants have recommitted to targeting free agents and draft prospects with local ties. Joc Pederson is the most recent example of that as he grew up about 30 minutes south of San Francisco in Palo Alto, California.
The addition of Judge would be the Giants' biggest free-agent addition since signing Barry Bonds prior to the 1993 season. Judge has registered a .278/.385/.561 line (153 OPS+) with 172 home runs and 396 RBI in parts of seven seasons with the Yankees. This includes three AL All-Star nods and two top-five MVP finishes in 2017 and 2021.
The 30-year-old outfielder is off to another strong start as he has produced a 1.045 OPS with 14 homers and 30 RBI for a Yankees team that leads baseball with a 28-10 record and a .737 winning percentage. Judge's price tag continues to increase with his play, but it is a price that the Giants could certainly absorb.
According to Fangraphs, the Giants have approximately $102.5 million committed to the 2023 roster. However, this does not include projected arbitration salaries, so that figure is expected to increase.
That said, the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) is set at $233 million for 2023, meaning that few teams will have the payroll space and available spending power to lure a player of Judge's caliber to San Francisco.
The front office has been reluctant to hand out lucrative, multi-year contracts but could this approach change with Judge? That remains to be seen but it is going to be hard to compete with star-powered rosters like the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres if the Giants do not make an aggressive move sooner or later.