Reported Aaron Judge visit to Winter Meetings catches Yankees off guard

Oct 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out against the Cleveland Guardians during the seventh inning in game two of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium.
Oct 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out against the Cleveland Guardians during the seventh inning in game two of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO -- On Monday morning, the Yankees felt cautiously optimistic about their chances to sign Aaron Judge, though they had no idea when he would convey his decision. By the afternoon, a surprising twist had caught them off guard.

When Bryan Hoch of MLB.com first reported that Judge was visiting the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, it seemed at first like a potentially positive sign. Maybe the Yanks and Judge had major news to announce?

Actually, no. As it turned out, the Yankees had no idea Judge was coming, and still do not know why -- or even if -- he will be here, according to multiple team sources.

Does this sound like a positive sign for a team whose entire offseason revolves around re-signing Judge?

Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he did not have a feel for when Judge would decide.

“I’ve got no indication whether this is the ninth inning, the seventh inning, the fifth inning,” Cashman said.

Sep 30, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts as he runs in from the outfield during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Sep 30, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts as he runs in from the outfield during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Judge’s agent, Page Odel, did not respond to a text message. He did, at least, communicate with Cashman on Monday, as talks between the parties are very much alive. The same can be said about Judge’s negotiations with the San Francisco Giants.

"Those conversations are continuing,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters Monday. “We’re just trying to put our best foot forward. The process continues. But obviously, we have really, really strong interest. We thought it was a really productive visit a couple of weeks ago."

Cashman said that he would not set a deadline for Judge to make a decision.

“You could take a position like that,” he said. “But the position we’re taking is that we’re trying to give him the time and the opportunity and the consideration to make the best decision for him and his family. I’m not putting a time frame on him as of today … I’m not doing that to this player. He’s too important to try to mess with like that.”

The Yankees understand that it will take a nine-year offer to lure Judge. They are comfortable with their financial position in these talks, and are simply waiting on Judge to decide. The team does not claim to know what that decision will be.

One imagines that they would like to know, at least, why Judge is apparently on his way.