Aaron Judge is a fan favorite for many reasons.
He’s one of the biggest players in baseball, he had a gap in his teeth (now fixed), the Judge’s Chambers are the hottest ticket outside the bleacher creatures, and oh yeah, he’s a very good baseball player.
He is someone, however, the Yankees should not bring back when he hits the free-agent market at the end of the 2022 season if he continues to miss chunks of time throughout the season.
This story is in no way saying when a healthy Judge can’t produce, he clearly has when healthy. That is the problem. It’s easy to say “well he’s healthy in the playoffs,” but as the years have gone by with these injury-riddled Yankee teams, you can’t flip a switch when October rolls around. Your main guys need to be healthy throughout the season, play and pitch multiple games in a row, and be ready to put their foot on the gas pedal.
There’s no substitution for a stage like the postseason but the least you can do is play with an intensity like a postseason game and be able to do that multiple day in a row. Judge played in less than half the games last season. In a 60 game season, he played just 28 games. Now just four games into the season he was dealing with an injury.
Is 2021 going to be another season where Judge plays 90-115 games as he did in 2018 and 2019?
The financial investment is not worth it to keep a guy who consistently has proven he can’t stay on the field. If he plays at the very least 130 games this year and next, then it’s a different discussion. For right now, you can’t be comfortable with giving him six years and upwards of $200 million going into his age 31-season.
If he can’t stay on the field in his prime, what makes you think he’ll be able to as he ages?
At the end of the 2022 season, the Yankees will need to seriously consider where the team stands. You’ll be multiple years into the contracts of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks, DJ LeMahieu, and Giancarlo Stanton.
You also need to consider that Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, and Clint Frazier will be the next Yankees up in their contracts and that creates a separate debate.
When he’s right, there is no doubt that Aaron Judge is one of the top five players in baseball but the problem is, he’s usually not right.
Featured Image: Michael Dwyer/AP