The 2022 Major League Baseball season has been one of the most historic to date. Whether it was St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols becoming the fourth member to join the 700 home run club, or the New York Mets achieving a record of 106 hit batters this year, the regular season was one for the record books. Perhaps the most applaudable feat of the season was New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge’s 62 home runs (HR), in which he smashed a 61-year-old record, previously held by New York Yankees legend Roger Maris. 

Although this is a spectacular milestone for the 30-year-old Yankees outfielder, Judge’s season continued into the postseason, as the Yankees’ postseason run began Oct. 11 against the Cleveland Guardians. This postseason was very important because it may have been his last with the Yankees as he considers his future with the team. 

Judge has been in the league since 2013 when the Yankees drafted him 32nd overall. After spending around three years in the minor leagues, Judge was finally called up to make his mark in right field against the Tampa Bay Rays in Aug. 2016. 

Fittingly, Judge hit a home run in his first major league at-bat. Immediately after, rookie Tyler Austin also hit a home run in his first major league at-bat, marking the first time in MLB history that two rookie teammates hit a home run in their first at-bat in the same game. As if this wasn’t enough, the next game Judge homered again, making it the second time in Yankees history that a player homered in their first two games. Ever since, Judge has been a star for the Yankees and has helped them into the playoffs every year since 2017, in which he won the American League Rookie of the Year.

Leading into the spring of 2022, the Yankees decided it was time to lock down Judge for good, offering him a seven-year extension for $213.5 million. After receiving his $1.8 million signing bonus in 2013, it was finally time for Judge to get the long-term extension he deserved. However, things didn’t go as smoothly as expected – Judge rejected the extension. Until then, most fans had never questioned Judge’s loyalty to the Yankees.

​​Before Opening Day, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters, “we’re all disappointed right now that we can’t be talking about a contract extension today, but that doesn’t preclude us from talking about it hopefully in the future.” 

Following these comments, Judge filed for a $22 million salary, while the Yankees counter-offered $17 million. Right before opening day, Judge and the Yankees agreed on a 1 year, $19 million contract.

In the end, Judge’s gamble on himself might pay off. He went on to have his best regular season yet, with a .311 BA, 62 HR and a 1.111 OPS. This stellar season gives the Yankees, or another team, no choice but to give Judge what he wants. 

As Yankee fans cheered him on for helping the squad reach the American League Championship Series, fans may need to worry about Judge’s status as a Yankee after this season. Judge was born in Sacramento, California, where he grew up a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants, which is subsequently a team that can afford to throw some money at a player like him. The New York Mets are also potentially in the mix, as they have some big decisions to make when their contract with four-time All-Star pitcher Jacob DeGrom ends this season. If DeGrom chooses to go elsewhere, the Mets free up a ton of cash, which they may choose to offer to Judge.

Judge has stated that “very few people get this opportunity to talk extension. Me getting this opportunity is something special and I appreciate the Yankees wanting to do that.” 

The part that has Yankees fans uneasy is what Judge thinks of free agency. 

“I don’t mind going into free agency… At the end of this year, I’ll talk to 30 teams,” Judge said. “The Yankees will be one of those teams.”

With Judge having a groundbreaking season, other teams will likely be gunning for him if they have the payroll to support it. Personally, bearing the results of this postseason, I hope Judge will stay loyal to the Yankees and accept a massive extension in the offseason. Judge has built a strong relationship with not only the team but with the fans as well. However, teams like the Giants and Mets may have very compelling offers, and it will be interesting to see where Aaron Judge takes the field in the spring of 2023. Nonetheless, Judge will definitely have an immediate impact on whichever team is lucky enough to land him.

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays in Sept. 2016. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Arturo Pardavila)