Where Yankees stand with Judge as Giants wait to pounce originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Judge is their homegrown superstar, their version of Buster Posey, and the pressure to bring him back as a free agent is enormous. While owner Hal Steinbrenner will make the ultimate call on how far the Yankees are willing to go, general manager Brian Cashman will run the offseason.
During his end-of-season press conference Friday in New York, Cashman reiterated that bringing Judge back is the top priority.
"We'd love to keep him and we'd love to have him back," he told reporters in New York. "Obviously he placed a bet on himself before the season and that has paid off. He had an amazing run and continued to add to that back of his baseball card, and he's got a lot more game left in him. We hope that game happens to remain in the pinstripes, that's all I can say."
Judge has spent his entire career as a Yankee, but he's now set to hit free agency after one of the greatest seasons in MLB history. He set an American League record with 62 homers while batting .311 with a 1.111 OPS.
Cashman drafted Judge in 2013 and watched him blossom into a star, but as the outfielder hits the open market for the first time, Cashman also finds himself without a guaranteed deal. His latest contract expired at the end of October, but he said Friday he's optimistic that he can reach an agreement with Steinbrenner soon.
Cashman also noted that the final number the Yankees offer Judge is "ultimately an ownership decision." He pointed out all the reasons why a reunion is necessary on and off the field, saying Judge "checks all the boxes."
"He's a fan favorite. He interacts with our fans extremely well," Cashman said. "He's respected within that clubhouse and goes about his business as good as you possibly can and is an elite performer and one of the game's best, if not the best, player. Those are the type that you want to retain and have as long as you possibly can, and it involves a lot of different categories. You want a team that can compete with a championship and ultimately win a championship -- a player like him would help you do that as you move forward.
"He's going to drive, as George Steinbrenner would say, fannies in the seats. People want to go watch that guy play. You want to put great teams out on the field that they want to come here to watch compete for wins, but certain individual players transcend the team and everything stops when they're at the bat or they have the ball in their hand, and he's one of those types of talents."
The Giants are hoping Judge can bring all of those attributes back to Northern California, where he grew up a Giants fan. They need the boost for their lineup, but they just as badly need the box-office jolt after a season that included their worst total attendance since Oracle Park opened.
The Giants have long had Judge on their radar, and the Yankees did them a favor by letting him play out his contract. Their final offer before the season was $213.5 million over seven years, which Judge turned down.
There has been speculation that Judge was upset that Cashman made the offer public, but Cashman said he informed Judge's agent, Page Odle, that he would do so. Cashman correctly pointed out that offers are never kept secret in this day and age and that somebody would have leaked it to the media.
Asked Friday if there had been further communication since the Yankees' season ended last month, Cashman said, "no comment." He also wouldn't comment on whether the Yankees have a hard cap of what they would offer Judge.
Cashman did note that it would be optimal for Judge to make a relatively quick decision so teams can either build around him or move on, but the Yankees will be patient no matter how this goes. Like with Bryce Harper three years ago, Judge is the type of player you wait all offseason for if you have to.
"He's going to dictate the dance steps to his free agency because he's earned the right to get there," Cashman said. "He's worked extremely hard to put himself in this position so we'll see how it plays out."