Why the Giants are the biggest threat to sign Aaron Judge from Yankees

Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images /

Aaron Judge and the San Francisco Giants have been linked in rumors for months. Here’s why it could actually happen this offseason.

For months, speculation in league circles has been that the San Francisco Giants pose the biggest threat to sign Aaron Judge away from the New York Yankees. Judge grew up near the Bay Area. He grew up a Giants fan. The team has money to spend and needs a power-hitting outfielder. The fit makes perfect sense.

So the news that Judge is in San Francisco to meet with the Giants on Tuesday, as first reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network, came as little surprise. But it added further credibility to the thought that the Giants are serious about pursuing the 30-year-old superstar outfielder.

The Giants are in arguably the best position to make a significant splash in free agency as any team in baseball. Their current 2023 payroll is around $133 million, according to Roster Resource, when the team has recently had payrolls that hovered around $200 million. They have just over $20 million on the books for 2024 while only having a $3.4 million player option for Wilmer Flores on the books in 2025.

In other words, the Giants have a lot of payroll flexibility. And that’s just how president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wanted it.

“From a financial standpoint, there would be nobody that would be out of our capability,” Zaidi said at the GM Meetings.

The San Francisco Giants have been preparing for Aaron Judge

That most assuredly includes Judge, who is expected to sign a contract worth around $40 million per season and for over $300 million. Before the 2021 season, he bet on himself by turning down a $213.5 million contract extension and followed through by posting one of the best seasons in baseball history. He mashed 62 home runs. He hit .311/.425/.686 and was a serious threat to win the Triple Crown. He won the American League MVP. Oh, and he just so happens to play above-average defense in the outfield.

Turning down that contract extension was a massive gamble, but it turned out to be one of the best bets in baseball history.

The Giants, of course, are not alone in pursuing Judge. The Yankees have made it abundantly clear, both publicly and privately, that re-signing him is their top priority. The rival Dodgers loom as a potential threat. Then there’s also the possibility of a mystery team lurking in the weeds.

But Judge flying to San Francisco to meet with the Giants is the latest indication that each side is serious about exploring a potential marriage. But Judge will have questions. Winning is important to him, so how would Zaidi add talent around him to maximize their chances of competing coming off a season with 81 wins? Will California’s state tax rate impact the Giants’ ability to make a competitive offer?

Those are just a couple of the questions that Judge will have. But based on Zaidi’s comments and their aggressiveness in bringing him to the Bay Area for a free agent visit, the Giants are confident they have the financial means to bring Judge to San Francisco.

And it adds further credence that they pose the biggest threat to sign Judge away from the Yankees.

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