Cross out the conspiracy theory that Yankees star Aaron Judge will move across town to the Mets this winter.
Almost immediately after the Yankees and their big slugger broke off contract talks, speculation began that Judge would travel eight miles by subway to the southeast. And that made sense.
Here’s the theory: Mets owner Steve Cohen, who tops MLB in money (over $15 billion) and motivation (seemingly unlimited), loves stars almost as much as he loves to spend, and the only thing standing between Judge and the Yankees is a little loot.
Beyond that, Judge is a tried and tested New York entertainer loved in every borough (although he heard some boos in the Bronx after he rejected the Yankees’ $213.5 million extension offer. ), and Cohen can afford a whole borough, not to mention a player and his rooms. At this point, Cohen is showing little restraint, even though the other 29 owners have struggled to rein him in with that $290 million luxury tax threshold at the fourth tier and an 80% usurious tax above. To this he says: it doesn’t matter.
Cohen already owns the highest paid pitcher and shortstop in the game, so why not the highest paid outfielder in the game, as Judge thinks he should be?
While this all makes sense, the facts don’t support the case, your honor. Here’s the judgment that counts: Cohen tells people he thinks the Yankees made a “very fair” offer to Judge.
Such sentiment suggests he wouldn’t go over that offer, and certainly not far enough for Judge to move himself and his rooms to Queens.
While it’s not yet known if Cohen has any financial limitations, the Mets’ outfield situation is already solid. The obvious need next winter is very likely to resolve a rotation situation complicated by the latest injury to super ace Jacob deGrom and his firm resolve to walk out of the contract he hates.
And while Cohen showed no interest beyond improving his club, at least one person absolutely couldn’t imagine the relatively new Mets owner doing something so overt to hurt his Crosstown rival. .
“He wouldn’t do that to the Yankees,” a source said.
Indeed, it seems like a strange period of good feelings between our two teams.
Beyond the long-established bromance in the Bronx between general managers Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler, which has already resulted in a reliever trade, an intra-city trade that happens only slightly more often than a Subway World Series, let’s face reality here. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner was an early consistent supporter of Cohen’s initially uncertain bid to win the Mets. Does anyone really believe that Cohen would repay Steinbrenner by stealing his best player?
Theoretically, all teams should be competing at all times. But in the real world, people don’t like hurting their good friends, especially if it costs them a quarter of a billion dollars in the process.
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx, the Yankees and Judge have too many reasons not to resume talks that separate them by about $75 million — the Yankees are offering about $233 million, including an extension of seven years for $213.5 million while Judge sought a nine- or 10-year total contract (eight- or nine-year extension) for at least $308 million in total, based on his $36 million request dollars a year for those free agent years.
There is too much to lose for both parties. Local Judge is easily the face of their team, and the Yankees obviously understand that, evidenced by an offer that almost everyone considers reasonable except Judge himself.
Likewise, Judge benefits from being a Yankee. Fans in a dress in right field improve its Q rating and add a touch of fun to the game’s most historic and majestic franchise.
We hope the Yankees and Judge understand that, either by revoking his banning order for in-season talks or in the winter, as they did with former outfield star Bernie Williams, who has eventually used an offer from the Red Sox to increase his Yankees deal by the tens of millions to $87.5 million over seven seasons. Either way, Judge belongs in the Bronx, where it all started.
Soto in the Bronx? Or Queens?
A theory with more odds than Judge for the Mets could ultimately be Juan Soto for the Yankees.
The superstar has three years to compete in the national championships, so that cannot be considered at all likely in the short term. But unlike the case of Judge and the Mets, at least the Yankees are known to be motivated to try for Soto if Judge leaves. Of course, the Yankees love Soto, who is not only six years younger but also left-handed, which is a better fit at Yankee Stadium.
This is a case in which they could get competition from Cohen. The Mets appeared to signal interest by closing in on signing Soto’s little brother, Elian, who has yet to show he’s even a prospect. In the end, the Nats rushed for $250,000 while the Mets only offered $50,000, but it’s a scenario that has a chance of becoming a bidding war in New York.
New York Post