Aaron Judge and Yankees set for arbitration hearing

Aaron Judge and Yankees set for arbitration hearing

ST. PETERSBURG — Aaron Judge plans to dress in a sharp suit, find a comfy chair and tune in for his arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Friday, a meeting scheduled over Zoom.

A $4 million difference remains between the judge and the Yankees, with an arbitration panel preparing to determine the judge’s salary in 2022. The judge and his agent, Page Odle, deposited $21 million, while the club deposited $17 million.

“That’s all business,” the judge said. “For me, it’s clear and simple: I love this team, I love this organization and everything, but it’s a commercial side that I don’t like sometimes. I don’t think a lot of people like it; I don’t think the team likes it. You have to cross, you manage it and you move on.

Although the 30-year-old judge is enjoying an MVP-caliber campaign, possessing a .301/.380/.647 slant line with a Major League-leading 25 homers and 55 runs scored in 65 games, the panel’s decision to arbitration should not integrate the arguments of the 2022 campaign.

Judge cut .287/.373/.544 with 39 homers and 98 RBI in 148 games for the Yankees last season, when he was selected as an All-Star for the third time, received his second Silver Slugger Award and placed fourth in the American League MVP race.

On opening day, the judge denied a seven-year, $213.5 million extension that would have pegged his 2022 salary at $17 million. Although Judge is eligible for free agency after this season and believes he’s in line for a massive deal, he doesn’t believe the contract situation has impacted his game.

“I’m not really motivated by that kind of stuff,” Judge said. “I’m more motivated by the type of team we have, the special talent we have here and the opportunity that is available to us. I try to keep focusing on that, and it’s pretty easy to block those other things with the business side.

Judge was not in the Yankees lineup on Tuesday, with manager Aaron Boone looking to give the slugger a day off on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field. Boone said he has no plans to discuss the upcoming hearing with the judge.

“Whatever happens out there, I know what Aaron’s priority is and what he wants to achieve,” Boone said. “I don’t expect anything to stand in the way of that.”

The Yankees haven’t participated in an arbitration hearing since 2017, when they won over reliever Dellin Betances, who asked for $5 million and was awarded $3 million. Betances, who took part in his audition, was angered after team president Randy Levine slammed the request as “unrelated to reality.”

“He just didn’t like the way the process went,” recalls Judge, who was a rookie that spring. “[Betances] kind of mixed staff [feelings] with business. He gave a lot to this organization, and the numbers he built for several years – even though he wasn’t closer, he did a lot of special things. Maybe he thought he should be rewarded for it, but it didn’t happen.

The judge said he had spoken to some players who had gone through the arbitration process and that they “hated it”, although others told the judge that “it was pretty good to hear what ‘they said about me’. The judge said he would prefer to be in a physical room for the hearing, but he plans to take every word.

“I’m going to introduce myself to the referees and then sit down and let my team do the work,” Judge said.

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