ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Aaron Judge intends to just “wear a nice suit” and “show up and sit down” as a three-person arbitration panel debates whether the Yankees of New York should pay their All-Star outfielder the $21 million salary he believes he’s worth this season.
The hearing will take place on Friday, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Judge said Tuesday afternoon before the Yankees’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, though he didn’t confirm the day. “I’ve had people in my agency, ex-players, who went through the process, said they hated it. And then other people who went through it said it was actually rather good to hear about [yourself].”
The last Yankees player to go to arbitration was reliever Dellin Betances in 2017, the judge’s record rookie of the year. An arbitration panel ruled in the club’s favor and Betances was open with his teammates about the hostility that showed in the courtroom.
“[Betances] just didn’t like the way the process went. … He gave a lot to this organization, the numbers he put together for several years, even though he was not closer, he did a lot of special things and maybe thought that he should be rewarded for it, but he hasn’t been, it’s not going to happen,” Judge said. “It’s probably hard, but for me it’s plain and simple. I love this team, I love this organization and everything, but there’s a business side that I don’t like sometimes, I don’t think a lot of people like it, I don’t think the team l ‘love [either] that you have to go through and then you move on.”
Manager Aaron Boone praised the way Judge conducted himself throughout the process, which did not affect his popularity or performance. Earlier Tuesday, MLB announced the first All-Star ballot results, and Judge led all players with 1,512,368 votes. Judge can become the first Yankee to lead the majors by voting for the All-Star Game since Alex Rodriguez in 2008.
Judge’s 25 home runs this season are the most at the majors, and he became the third player in franchise history to hit at least 25 homers in the first 62 games of a Yankees season, joining Babe Ruth. (28 in 1928 and 26 in 1930) and Mickey Mantle (27 in 1956).
“Whatever happens out there, I know what Aaron’s focus is and what he wants to achieve and I don’t expect anything to stand in the way of that,” Boone said. “He’s obviously a great player, but a guy who’s just really good from the neck too, in terms of handling everything that comes his way through stardom, being one of the faces of the game, to be a New York Yankee The things that happen or inevitably happen, in this case contract situations and arbitration and all that, he’s fully equipped to handle those things and not affect what he does between the lines .”
At the season opener, Judge had expressed frustration at not having finalized a long-term contract extension with the Yankees, the club with which he has repeatedly said he wants to spend the rest of his career in the major leagues. The judge gave himself an opening day deadline to agree to an extension that would have kept him from hitting free agency. But he and the Yankees couldn’t reach an agreement, with general manager Brian Cashman saying the team had offered a seven-year, $213.5 million extension, which, coupled with the $17 million offered in arbitration this season would have made the whole package. is worth just over $230 million.
The judge declined to address Cashman’s rare move publicly revealing the terms of the Yankees’ offer and described it as the business side of baseball, which he echoed on Tuesday. Cashman releasing the specific numbers was something that didn’t sit well inside the Yankees clubhouse, sources told ESPN.
The parties will hold the hearing by videoconference unless a settlement is agreed, which cannot be completely ruled out despite the judge saying he will not negotiate a contract extension mid-season. The Yankees set a precedent in 2019, when pitcher Luis Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million extension shortly before his arbitration hearing.
As to whether the impending hearing was on his mind or served as a distraction, Judge said his goal was to win games.
“We are the best team in the league. That’s what I thought,” he said. “Being here with these guys and what we’ve been doing for the last two months has made it pretty easy for me to focus on baseball. I could get caught up in contract stuff or officiating stuff, but it’s not necessary. That’s what I have agents for.”
AROLDIS CHAPMAN UPDATE
The Yankees are closing in on Aroldis Chapman, who has been on the disabled list with left Achilles tendonitis since May 24, held a live batting practice at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa earlier Tuesday. The injury appears to have hampered him this season, particularly in his last five appearances, in which he posted a 14.73 ERA after allowing six earned runs in 3⅔ innings.
Clay Holmes dazzled in taking on the closest role, not allowing a run in 29 straight relief appearances from April 9 to June 18 (31⅓ innings pitched), topping Mariano Rivera’s 28-game streak for the longest streak without goal by a Yankees pitcher in franchise history.
When asked if he believed he had lost his role to Holmes, Chapman said that was not his goal.
“I don’t see it that way. I’m past that point in my career where I would fight for a role, for the closest role, I’ve been there before,” Chapman said. “When I got to the major leagues, they gave me the opportunity to close and I took advantage of it. Pretty much the same thing happens for [Holmes]. I’m trying to come back, healthy, [to] help the team in any role. He’s doing a great job right now and he deserves the role he has.”