Aaron Judge didn’t ‘even think about the next step’ after Yanks swept ALCS

NEW YORK — When Judge Aaron took his last swing Sunday night – a grounder for the 2022 American League Championship Series Final — the biggest question in Yankees‘The offseason has begun: Will the presumed AL MVP be back in the stripes next year?

After their playoff nemesis Houston Astros end the Yankees season with a Victory 6-5 to complete a four-game sweep, Judge’s manager and teammates hoped his tenure in the South Bronx would not also come to a conclusion.

“Just an amazing season,” Aaron Boone said of Judge’s 2022 campaign, in which he hit 62 home runs to break Roger Maris’ single-season AL record that stood for 61 years. “Someone I’ve grown close to and admire and respect. And I hope we see him in stripes for a long time. I don’t even want to think about the alternative right now.”

“I would be really disappointed if he’s not back; big shock if he’s not back,” said infielder DJ LeMahieu, who has been inactive for the entire postseason due to of a right foot injury. “But you never know how it goes. I feel like he really wants to be here, but when it becomes a business it changes a lot.”

Judge will undoubtedly be one of, if not the biggest, names available in free agency after turning down a seven-year Yankees contract that would have paid him $213.5 million from 2023-2029 within hours. before opening day.

The All-Star outfielder went on to have a career year in which he led baseball in nearly every offensive category and passed Yankees legends like Babe Ruth and Roger Maris as the league’s new home run king. ‘AL, making him a favorite for the league. MVP award.

Following the sweep by the Astros, Judge said he hadn’t thought about his next free agency or if it was his last game in a Yankees uniform.

“This is all going to go through my agent. I haven’t even thought about the next step yet,” Judge said. “But like I said, we have time to find out.”

When asked if he had sought advice from teammates such as Giancarlo Stanton (13-year extension, $325 million) or Gerrit Cole (nine-year, $324 million free agent contract) on his upcoming foray into free agency — which officially begins the day after the World Series — Judge was quick to point out that Stanton was not a free agent and signed an extension with the Miami Marlins in 2014, and clarified that Cole “had in mind where he wanted to be.”

Nonetheless, Judge looked wistful as he took a moment to describe his six-year career in the stripes.

“To have the chance to wear the stripes and play on the right field at Yankee Stadium is an incredible honor that I certainly didn’t take for granted at any time,” he said. “I always checked myself before the game, when I said a little prayer, I looked around the stadium and I kind of pinched myself that there are very few people who are lucky enough to run on this pitch and doing and playing in front of the fans who have supported us throughout my six years here. It was a special moment. I’m just kicking myself for not bringing this championship back for them.

Judge got a little slip when he addressed the gap between the Yankees and the Astros, who earned a World Series berth for the fourth time in the past six seasons. The judge used the term “we” for the Yankees who finally overcame their playoff hurdle, having lost three times to Houston in the last six league championship series.

“It’s never fun, but I think it will definitely make, when we finally get there and secure this thing, it will make it a lot smoother, going through tough times like this for sure,” said Judge.

And while Judge once again expressed his desire to continue wearing the Yankees uniform, he reiterated his free agent status.

“I’ve been clear about this since I first wore the stripes. But we couldn’t do anything until spring training,” he said. “I’m a free agent. We’ll see what happens.”

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