Giants signing Aaron Judge 'lines up really nicely,' Jeff Passan believes

Passan: Everything lines up nicely for Giants to sign Judge originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With MLB free agency set to begin after the World Series, the Hot Stove is ready to ignite.

The Giants are rumored to be one of the favorites to land New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who will be the biggest player to hit the market this offseason.

ESPN's Jeff Passan joined KNBR 680's "Papa & Lund" on Thursday morning, and explained why San Francisco might be an enticing landing spot for Judge, a Northern California native.

"We have to understand a few things here," Passan said. "No. 1, Aaron Judge is a very loyal person, and that loyalty can cut different ways. He's loyal to the franchise he played for, but he's also loyal to his family. And the notion that they can drive an hour and a half from Linden and watch him play every night has to be extremely appealing to him.

"No. 2, the Giants are in a transitional period right now where they have more payroll flexibility than they have had since, what, before Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt arrived? They're in the position to move on from that championship era finally and start a new one."

Passan believes the Giants will need to make Judge a strong offer, with the Yankees almost certainly pulling out every stop to retain their homegrown slugger. The stars might align for San Francisco to sign the 30-year-old, but Passan still believes the Yankees are the most likely destination.

"And there are but a handful of players I'd rather start a franchise around than Aaron Judge right now," Passan added. "So everything lines up really nicely for that to be the case, but you're also going to need the Giants to make [a strong bid] and you also need to know the Yankees are lurking there. And the Yankees understand that if Aaron Judge is not in their lineup this year, they might not even be a playoff team.

"All of these elements together lead me to say that I think Aaron Judge is probably going back to New York, but I say that with no confidence at all and completely open to the idea that he very well could be in San Francisco next year and for many, many years beyond."

Other big names who will hit the market this offseason include shortstops Trea Turner and Carlos Correa and starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodón, all four of which the Giants could have some level of interest. With plenty of money to spend this offseason, could the Giants pursue both Judge and an ace like Verlander?

"It's going to be $35-plus million a year," Passan said of Verlander's potential contract. "Can the Giants get Aaron Judge and Justin Verlander? Absolutely. Can they get Aaron Judge and a shortstop? Absolutely. Can they get all three? Probably not. There's enough of a foundation there and more enough a foundation of success than talent necessarily.

"There are guys there, but they need free agency, they need to supplement and supplement strongly in free agency, and they have the money to go out and do so. If they do not spend big ... let's put it this way -- if they don't wind up among the top-three spending teams this offseason, it would really surprise me."

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If the Giants indeed do pursue Judge, they reportedly will look to add other star free agents in an attempt to entice the slugger to sign with San Francisco.

The offseason is right around the corner, and it shouldn't surprise us if the Giants are linked to just about every free-agent player on the market.

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