Aaron Judge weighs free agency decision between Giants, Yankees and Dodgers
It usually takes one big domino to fall before the MLB hot stove offseason really gets underway. Perhaps that domino will be the 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge, who is being courted by the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. There are high-profile free agents every winter, but Judge’s case is particularly interesting given the state of both teams, his projected contract and the season that he just had.
Aaron Judge free agency odds
While there are no odds currently posted in the betting market, DraftKings had odds up in mid-November that listed the Yankees at -165, Giants at +300 and Dodgers at +450. No other team was lower than +1000. We haven’t heard Judge linked to the Dodgers at all, so this does appear to be a two-team race and the odds would be reflective of that if re-posted.
Panicking Yankees fans can take solace in the fact that the odds Judge stays with the Yankees would still make New York the favorite.
Why would Aaron Judge sign with the Giants?
Many are wondering why Judge would sign with the Giants, a team that is clearly the third-best in its division behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy where you came from. Judge was born in Sacramento, grew up a Giants fan and played his college ball at Fresno State.
He dated his wife, Samantha, in high school and college before they reconnected in 2019 per the New York Post. That means she’s a California girl, so both parties may have some interest in heading home.
The Giants also have fairly deep financial resources and a brilliant front office. They’ve won three World Series titles since the Yankees won their last championship. They’re going to be a competitive team, especially with a bat like Judge’s in the lineup, and his contract length will be substantial, so they have plenty of time to build around him.
He recently visited with the Giants and also Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry on a trip to the Bay Area that was said to have gone very well.
Why would Aaron Judge sign with the Yankees?
The Yankees are reportedly pulling out all of the stops to get Judge signed. And they should. This was a really bad offense aside from Judge’s contributions. He accounted for 16.5% of the team’s runs scored, including driving himself in 62 times with home runs. The Yankees led MLB with 254 homers, but Judge accounted for just under 25% of them. He led the league in runs scored, home runs, RBI, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Most importantly, he also stayed healthy for the second straight season after some durability concerns popped up from 2018-20.
Every team needs Judge, but the Yankees really need Judge and have the deepest financial resources available to retain him. They can make the biggest offer. It may come down to money versus being at home.
Why would Aaron Judge sign with the Dodgers?
The Dodgers seem to be the clear third option, as a return to the Yankees or a return home with the Giants make the most sense. However, the Dodgers have money to burn and are coming off of a tremendously disappointing early exit in the 2022 MLB playoffs. It is rumored that the Dodgers would consider moving Mookie Betts to second base to free up an outfield spot for Judge.
From Judge's perspective, why wouldn't he want to play on a loaded super team with the best chance of winning the World Series as the current favorite? He'd still be in California and much closer to home, but he'd be doing so on the league's best roster.
World Series Odds (DraftKings)
- Los Angeles Dodgers +550
- Houston Astros +600
- Atlanta Braves +800
- New York Yankees +1000
- Toronto Blue Jays +1000
- New York Mets +1200
- San Diego Padres +1400
- Philadelphia Phillies +1500
- Seattle Mariners +1800
- Chicago White Sox +2000
- St. Louis Cardinals +2200
- Tampa Bay Rays +2500
- Boston Red Sox +3000
- Milwaukee Brewers +3500
- Cleveland Guardians +3500
- San Francisco Giants +3500
- Los Angeles Angels +4000
- Baltimore Orioles +4500
- Minnesota Twins +5500
- Texas Rangers +6000
- Miami Marlins +7500
- Detroit Tigers +7500
- Arizona Diamondbacks +8000
- Chicago Cubs +8000
- Kansas City Royals +9000
- Colorado Rockies +10000
- Cincinnati Reds +12000
- Pittsburgh Pirates +15000
- Oakland Athletics +15000
- Washington Nationals +15000
Do you think that Judge may sign with the Giants? If so, those +3500 odds to win the World Series at DraftKings won’t stick around. They’d likely drop to around +2000 or +2500, if not lower depending on how the market views the signing.
Do you think he stays with the Yankees? The +1000 price is already a little low, but it would likely fall to +700 or +800. If he does sign elsewhere, I’d expect that line to balloon out to +2000 or higher.
Don't forget about what Judge signing will mean for the odds for other teams within that division. The Blue Jays would likely move to +800 or +900 with a much better chance to win the AL East if he doesn't return to the Bronx. Similarly, the Rays, Red Sox and Orioles could all see movement.
Aaron Judge MVP Odds
No sportsbooks have MVP odds out yet, but he’ll be the favorite in the American League if he stays with the Yankees or signs with another AL team. He got 28 of 30 first-place votes en route to winning the 2022 AL MVP. He’d be favored over Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez and Mike Trout as the next three on the betting board.
If he goes to the National League, the competition is a little fiercer and deeper with players like Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman. Judge would still be the favorite, but the odds would be more spread out.
Who will sign Aaron Judge in free agency?
Ultimately, I think Judge signs with the Yankees. New York has the most urgency to sign him, especially as the Mets spend as if money is no object. My prediction: 8 years, $328 million.
That would make Judge the highest-paid position player at $41 million per season. Trout is currently first at $36 million. That average annual value (AAV) would trail only Max Scherzer, who has two years left on his three-year, $130 million deal signed last November. He’ll turn 31 in April, so eight years seems like the maximum contract length.
The Giants are expected to make an offer soon, so we should see Judge sign sooner rather than later, as his contract opens up the market for other players.
Spring Training and our annual MLB Guide from resident MLB analyst Adam Burke will be here before you know it, but we'll keep you updated on the latest MLB news in the meantime.