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Yankees, Aaron Judge fail to reach contract extension before 2022 MLB season

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The New York Yankees are letting one of the league's premier power hitters hit the free-agent market next offseason. The team failed to reach a contract extension with slugger Aaron Judge before the start of the 2022 regular season, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced Friday.

The start of the 2022 MLB regular season was thought to be the deadline for a contract extension. Judge has repeatedly said he does not want to negotiate a new contract during the season. The Yankees open the regular season Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET. They'll take on the Boston Red Sox.

Cashman said the team tried to sign Judge to a long-term deal. That deal reportedly added seven years to Judge's contract. It would have paid Judge roughly $30.5 million per year.

Judge, 29, decided to turn down that deal and take his chances on the market. A $30.5 million annual salary is a lot to leave on the table, though it's possible Judge surpasses that figure with a strong season. Judge hit .287/.373/.544, with 39 home runs, in 633 plate appearances last season. If he repeats those figures, Judge should receive a massive contract on the open market.

Cashman expressed optimism the Yankees and Judge could still come together on an extension before the offseason. That depends on whether Judge wants to deal with negotiations while playing games. In addition to a long-term deal, Judge and the Yankees aren't even on the same page when it comes to Judge's 2022 salary. The two sides failed to reach a deal in the offseason, and the issue is set to be decided by an arbitrator, potentially in June.

Yankees take unusual step of holding Aaron Judge news conference

It's unclear why Cashman and the Yankees decided to hold a news conference to announce no extension was reached with Judge. The move goes beyond the team's standard operating procedures. Cashman said he wanted to put the news out there so he could avoid reporters bothering him all day.

The Yankees may have also held a news conference for more unsavory reasons. By getting out there and announcing there was not a deal, the Yankees seemingly put the blame on Judge. The news conference helps the Yankees say, "We tried, but Judge didn't want to take our deal." That could make for an uncomfortable situation as Judge enters his final season under contract. Will fans and certain local media members be even harder on Judge after he has a bad game? Will that influence other fans to perceive Judge as a villain?

Baseball fans are smarter in 2022, and can understand when teams try to control a narrative. Even if the majority of fans side with Judge, the Yankees' decision to hold a news conference to announce there was no deal is bizarre. Why single out Judge hours before the team's first regular season game?

On Thursday, the Yankees released a video featuring their season slogan: "No moral victories. No excuses. No storylines. No narratives. Talk is cheap."

Friday showed they can't even take their own advice.

Aaron Judge with the Yankees.
Aaron Judge will not sign a long-term deal with the Yankees. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)