Aaron Judge’s free agency: Ranking all 30 MLB teams as potential landing spots as Yankees star enters offseason

Judge Aaron may have last played with the Yankees on Sunday, as New York lost Game 4 of the American League Championship Series to the Houston Astros, completing a scan. Judge is coming off one of the most impressive offensive seasons in league history. He hit 62 homers, breaking Roger Maris’ single-season records for the Yankees franchise and the American League, and threatened for the AL Triple Crown. He will likely be rewarded for his incredible season in the form of the AL Most Valuable Player award once all the ballots are counted later this fall.

Judge will be rewarded in another way this winter, as he is on course to become the most-wanted free agent of the offseason. You may have heard that he turned down the Yankees’ last extension offer in the spring, a deal that would have earned him more than $210 million. The decision to bet on himself looks brilliant now, and it begs a tantalizing question: who could he end up signing with before next season?

At CBS Sports, we’re nothing if not the messy kind, so below we’ve prioritized and ranked all 30 teams based on their perceived likelihood of signing Judge. We should note that this is more of an art than a science – there is still time in the regular season, for Pete’s sake – and this exercise is for entertainment purposes only. In other words, don’t go too high or too low in response to your team’s placement.

With the fine print out of the way, let’s get to categorizing things.

Level 1: No question, no how

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

29. Oakland Athletics

28. Miami Marlins

27. Kansas City Royals

26. Tampa Bay Stingrays

25. Cincinnati Reds

Again, the judge denied an extension that would have earned him more than $210 million. He is certain to receive even more this winter. Can you imagine the Royals or Athletics handing out such a contract? Of course, you can’t; not in this version of the simulation. We would, however, pay a small fee to watch a livestream where Pirates general manager Ben Cherington pitches the idea to owner Bob Nutting.

Level 2: Swing and miss

24. Detroit Tigers

23. Washington nationals

22. Baltimore Orioles

21. Milwaukee Brewers

20. Colorado Rockies

19. Los Angeles Angels

Neither of these teams looks likely to 1) spend the necessary money or 2) make the playoffs. Given that Judge will have his pick of teams that can and will do both, there’s no point wasting a lot of time weighing the respective merits of this group. It will be conceded that the idea of ​​Judge joining forces with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani is tempting, but the Angels seem more likely to trade Ohtani before or after a sale.

Level 3: missing element

18. Arizona Diamonds

17. Chicago White Sox

16. Minnesota twins

15. Cleveland Guardians

The White Sox, Twins and Guardians will likely fight for the American League Central crown again next season. None of them seem likely to splurge on a player of Judge’s caliber – although the Twins have signed Carlos Correa last offseason, so maybe anything is possible. The Diamondbacks are a team on the rise, but they have an outfield full of youngsters, which suggests they should spend their money elsewhere.

Level 4: On the Warning Trail

14. Philadelphia Phillies

13. San Diego Padres

12. Seattle Mariners

11. Toronto Blue Jays

ten. Houston Astros

9. Atlanta Braves

8. Texas Rangers

seven. Cardinals of St. Louis

6. Chicago Cubs

If you told us that one of these teams got involved in Judge, we wouldn’t be shocked; we just don’t count on them to do a serious race because of this or that factor. The Padres and Rangers have made several notable additions to their rosters over the past year. We don’t know if either has room for the kind of agreement the judge will require. The Mariners, Blue Jays, Astros and Braves all seem more likely to focus on keeping or expanding theirs – the Braves, for example, need to figure out whether or not they’ll keep Dansby Swanson in the city. The cardinals were vying for John Soto, suggesting they might have the appetite for another high-profile puncher. Would they pony up for the judge? We are skeptical. Then there are the Cubs, who will likely focus their energy (and money) on upgrading at shortstop.

5. Boston Red Sox

We’re also skeptical of ranking the Red Sox so well. Chaim Bloom has shown little willingness to spend, and it would seem odd to trade Mookie Bets only to turn around a few winters later and sign Judge. Also, they need to understand what they are doing with the left side of their infield, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman rafael devers. However, there are only so many teams that can realistically reach the judge’s price, and the Red Sox just happen to be one of those teams.

Level 5: Favorites

Finally we made it, we made it to the final four, or the teams that we believe have the best chance of signing Judge this winter. Let’s dive into it.

4. San Francisco Giants

A front office source mocked us for listing the Giants as a favorable landing spot for Judge, but hear us out on this one. The Giants have made past plays for Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper, suggesting they have an appetite for a mid-range thumper. Much of San Francisco’s existing core is aging toward retirement or decline, leaving Farhan Zaidi in a position where it’s high time to import a new face to the franchise. The Giants will forgo several long-term commitments this winter and next, giving them the financial freedom to make a splash. And hey, it might not help that Judge played college about three hours from Oracle Park, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps this source will prove to be correct; we just think the Giants should soon become a serious dark horse for a top free agent.

3. New York food

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

We’re not quite required by law to include the Dodgers and Mets at the top of this list (and others similar in concept), but we’re closer to that than not. The Dodgers have several huge contracts coming off the books this offseason, including those belonging to Trea Turner and David Price. They could free up even more money by not doing tenders Cody Bellinger, if they choose to do so. Due to their apparent financial flexibility, they get the top ranking. The Mets, for their part, have shown no real aversion to spending as much money as they want under Steve Cohen. Even so, Billy Eppler will have significant internal business to handle this offseason, as an ace Jacob of Grom and closer Edwin Diaz both can hit the open market. Would the Mets really be willing to keep these two and judge sign? Maybe.

1. New York Yankees

And yet, we have to pick the Yankees as Judge’s potential top contender. Yes, it’s the coward’s choice, and yes, they have so far failed to lock up Judge. Several factors at play could compel them to feel a greater sense of urgency when the two sides talk to each other again this winter. On the one hand, Brian Cashman must know that his team would be much worse off without Judge. On the other hand, the Yankees rarely let their hometown stars go in free agency (Robinson Canó is the exception), and it would be hard to let Judge walk after overturning Maris’ record. Then there’s the Mets factor: can you imagine the vibe around the Yankees if they let Judge go wild across town? Cashman and the Yankees may have the guts to put up with it all, but we’re sticking with the starter until there’s a reason to count them out.

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