The picture above is of Aaron Judge celebrating the money he will undeniably earn. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN (subscription required), the New York Yankees have offered Judge an eight-year, $300 million pact. If the SF Giants are going to sign the power-hitting outfielder away from the Yankees, they will need to top that offer.
The bar has been set for SF Giants outfielder target Aaron Judge
The $37.5 million average annual value would put Judge as the second-highest-paid player in baseball, behind only Max Scherzer of the New York Mets. The veteran starter has an average annual value of $43.33 after signing a two-year, $86.67 million deal last winter.
If that contract offer is accurate, it likely means that the Giants will need to top it if they are going to sign the eight-year veteran. Does an eight-year, $320 million deal get the job done?
That would bump Judge's average annual value to $40 million per season. Or, does a nine-year, $337.5 million do it? That is the same average annual value that the Yankees offered but it tacks on an additional year.
It could also be something in the middle where Judge receives a higher rate per year with more years. One way or the other, it is going to take a lot for the Giants to land Judge. They are going to need to outbid the Yankees to land the star outfielder as his representatives will likely be leveraging the familiarity of New York in contract talks with San Francisco.
The Giants' front office typically operates privately but their pursuit of Judge has been very public this winter. And, they are not the only NL West team that is interested in the right-handed bat.
On one hand, I think the Giants have the resources to outbid the Yankees for Judge. They are substantially below the Competitive Balance Tax, so they are in a position to afford Judge's next contract with relative ease. Plus, they only have $17.5 million in guaranteed money committed to the 2024 team so far. Again, they have plenty of room.
On the other hand, San Francisco has not been a preferred destination for position players. Since Barry Bonds signed a seven-year, $43.75 deal way back in 1992, the largest contract that the Giants have given to a free-agent position player is the five-year, $60 million deal for Aaron Rowand in 2007.
That is a giant leap to go from Rowand to one of the most, high-profile free agents in recent memory. That is not to say that the Giants cannot get it done. They have the resources to do so. They know what the bar is currently and it is up to the front office and ownership to determine if they are willing to go above and beyond that bar.