Watching Aaron Judge leave the New York Yankees would be bad.
Watching him sign with one of the club’s top rivals would be devastating.
Yet that’s what the Yankees are facing with Judge, their All-Star right fielder who rejected a seven-year, $ 213.5 million contract before Opening Day and will become a free agent after the season.
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ESPN’s Buster Olney identified seven clubs which could make a run at Judge once he hits the open market. Yankees fans aren’t going to like this list.
San Francisco Giants: Judge is a northern California native, making a homecoming a real possibility.
Los Angeles Dodgers: They seem to be in on just about every big-name free agent these days.
Los Angeles Angels: Judge, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the same lineup? Wow.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are in the midst of turning over their roster and will have payroll flexibility plus the need for a star to be the face of the franchise.
Minnesota Twins: Well, they did pay up for Carlos Correa.
Here’s where things get interesting.
New York Mets: Talk about a seismic shift in the Big Apple.
If (Steve) Cohen wants the player, he could get the player – and at the very least, he could drive up the price for the Yankees or some other team by being the unpredictable wild card in the bidding. “I wouldn’t rule Cohen out of anything,” a rival evaluator said, “especially if he gets close this year and doesn’t win it.”
Boston Red Sox: The Sox will have tons of money to spend, especially if Xander Bogaerts opts out and walks. But remember, the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers rather than pay him $ 300 million.
The signing of Judge would change that narrative, rip the Yankees’ best position player out of their lineup, and get Red Sox fans turning out early to watch Judge put divots in the aluminum siding that protects the Green Monster.
Of course, you can’t rule out the Yankees re-signing Judge. But first things first, with an arbitration hearing on Friday. Judge filed at $ 21 million while the Yankees countered with $ 17 million.
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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at email@example.com.