The Aaron Judge rumor mill is in full swing with the San Francisco Giants emerging as a top contender for the American League home run champion.
Since Judge's New York Yankees fell to the Houston Astros in the playoffs, neither Judge or the Giants have said a word publicly about a possible hookup.
So the case for Judge bringing his rare combination of power at the plate and agility in the field to the Giants is circumstantial.
Judge, who spurned the Yankees' $213.5 million, seven-year offer in April to test the free-agent market, had a storybook season with a record 62 home runs, topping Roger Maris and Babe Ruth and almost guaranteeing him a new contract worth at least $300 million and perhaps closer to $400 million, according to analysts.
For Giants fans, the next chapter of that story would have Judge, who grew up in Linden, near Stockton, coming home to the SF Bay Area. A report in NJ Advance Media quoted an anonymous source who said the Giants indicated that Judge is “at the top of the Giants list” of free agents to acquire and that “they have so much money freed up.”
After the Giants' ho-hum season, they certainty could use the slugger to compete against the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who also had an early exit this year in the playoffs.
But the competition for Judge should be lively and could include the deep-pocketed Dodgers and several other teams, making the trophy acquisition so expensive that there’s little left to fill out the rest of the team’s lineup.
Judge is being predictably coy about where he wants to land, saying he’ll “see what happens” as a free agent. The Yankees have little choice but to pay whatever it takes to try to keep the 30-year-old right fielder after his magical regular season.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told ESPN: “There’s a pot of gold there” for Judge.
How big is that pot? We will see after the World Series, when the bidding for free agents begins.
Vince Bielski can be reached at [email protected]