The Major League Baseball regular season hasn’t started yet, but the players are already excited about next offseason’s huge free-agent crop. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has no interest in waiting until the winter to make his recruiting pitches. He’s going to start wooing players to the Yankees right now.
Judge’s pursuit of elite free agents started Wednesday, before the Yankees took on the Baltimore Orioles in a spring training game. Judge spoke to infielder Manny Machado, one of the elite players expected to be available next winter, and wasted little time making small talk according to NJ.com.
“Before the game, I asked him how his offseason was, how everything was going,” Judge said. “I asked him how he liked (moving from third base to short).”
And then Judge dropped in this:
“I told him, ‘You’d look pretty good in pinstripes, too.”
According to Judge, Machado just laughed off that suggestion. But it’s not out of the question that Machado joins the Yankees in a few months. He’s young, his talent is immense and the Yankees have a ton of money to spend.
They also have a sizable hole at third base, where Brandon Drury is expected to play start for them in 2018. Even if prospect Gleyber Torres takes that job, Neil Walker will leave after the season, opening a spot for someone to move for Machado.
The only thing keeping Machado from signing with the Yankees might be … the Yankees. It’s assumed the team will also pursue outfielder Bryce Harper should he hit the market. Even though they already have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton locked up for a while, they won’t have a problem finding a place for a talent like Harper.
As innocent as Judge’s comments might have been, Major League Baseball didn’t react with the same chuckle that Machado did. The league released a statement saying it does not condone Judge’s comments and has let the Yankees know as much.
“We have been in contact with the Yankees,” the statement reads. “They communicated to us that Mr. Judge’s off the cuff comments were not appropriate and not authorized by the club. They will speak to him to make sure that this does not happen again.”
As such, the Yankees’ unofficial and official recruitment of Machado will have to wait for the offseason.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik