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MLB Madness? Best Landing Spots For One Of The Most High-Value 2023 Free Agents

Where will the MLB home run king Aaron Judge sign this offseason? Will he return to New York or will he land somewhere new?

The MLB free agency period has begun, and boy is this free agent class loaded. Names like Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts jump out immediately. However, one name that headlines this year’s loaded free agent class is Aaron Judge. The MLB home run king hits the free agent market after declining a seven-year, $213.5 million deal in April. Judge will likely command a contract over $300 million, which will thin out the number of teams in the MLB that can afford Judge. Let’s break down which MLB teams will be the ideal landing spot for Aaron Judge.

New York Mets

The New York Mets have already proven they can be major players in the free-agent market. By coincidence, the Mets could be in need of an outfielder or two. Starting center fielder Brandon Nimmo is a free agent, and the Mets need to fill that position alongside Starling Marte and Mark Canha. Nimmo might easily command $20 million a year, so why wouldn’t the Mets decide to have a spending spree and go after Judge?

However, Jacob deGrom is expected to opt out of his contract, and the Mets could potentially lose Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. Starting pitching could prove to be a far more significant need than going after Judge. The Aaron Judge sweepstakes might be too costly for the Mets if they have to rebuild their starting rotation. Only time will tell who or where this Mets roster can afford the most spending.

Chicago Cubs

Flashback to 2019, and the Chicago Cubs have a payroll of $237.2 million by the end of the season. By last season, that dropped down to $174.9 million. Jason Hayward will cost around $22 million, but this is the last year the Cubs will have to pay him. So realistically, the Cubs would add around $100 million to their payroll. So, if the money works out, Chicago could become a significant player for Aaron Judge.

The most significant need for the Cubs is getting a big name at shortstop. If the Cubs can sacrifice money to get Judge, they can move the funds around and also get a solid shortstop. The Cubs have a chance to get back to contention and get two big pieces for their lineup. Once again, only time will tell how much the Cubs are willing to spend and if they want to become big spenders this winter.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers always seem to have their name in the mix for franchise players. The interest might not be extreme, but imagining a lineup with Mookie Betts, maybe Trae Turner, Aaron Judge, and more is fun. But, of course, the Dodgers also have a magical amount of money to spend every offseason, and the only way to describe the Dodgers’ interest is, “why the hell not.” 

The biggest storyline is that if Judge comes to LA, Mookie Betts could move back to the infield. Betts began his MLB career at second base and could easily switch back. The only true interest here is shaking up the MLB yet again and getting their competition to break the bank. I hope he does not end up in LA, but money talks, especially in LA. The Dodgers have the ability to get Judge, but who knows where their head is.

San Fransisco Giants

Here is one of the biggest competitors for Judge this offseason, the San Fransisco Giants. San Fran had plenty of trouble figuring out their batting lineup in 2022. The number two and three spots in their lineup saw 27 players attempt to produce. However, Joc Pederson and Wilmer Flores were the bright spots of the Giants’ lineup, and they could use some star power to boost their production.

LaMonte Wade Jr., Luis Gonz√°lez, Austin Slater, and top prospect Heliot Ramos are the candidates to start alongside Mike Yastrzemski in the outfield. That alone should be enough reason for the Giants to be spenders in the outfielders market. The Giants made a splash when they traded for Khris Bryant, but they didn’t sacrifice much money. Judge will force the Giants to write a hefty check, but it would be an investment that could get them back to contention in the NL West. The Giants easily have the best shot at competing with the Yankees to get Judge.

New York Yankees

The number one contender for Aaron Judge is the team that had him in the first place, the Yankees. The Yankees offered Judge a deal paying him $30.5 million per year and could’ve stopped any talk of Judge leaving. Instead, Judge bet on himself and will cash out big time. He broke the single-season home run record and had a career season that will all but guarantee he gets far more than the Yankees initially offered. The big question is how much the Yankees are willing to pay.

The Yankees would be dumb to let Judge go after his record-breaking season. Jon Heyman of the New York Post wrote, “The current belief is that the Yankees prefer not to go into the $40 million per year range.” A more realistic range is an eight or nine-year deal sitting at $300 million or $310 million. Of course, the Yankees have other roster spots to deal with, so breaking the bank on Judge is a 50/50 coin flip. However, the Yankees are still the most likely suitor for Judge, so do not be surprised if Judge continues his career in the pinstripes.

Final Thoughts On The MLB’s Aaron Judge Sweepstakes

The way I see it, if you want Judge, be prepared to write the big check. There is no doubt in my mind that Judge will get a contract around the $300 million mark. He earned it by having a record-breaking season and showing he is worth the money even as he heads into his 30s. Judge has the upper hand in any negotiation at this point. He just has to decide where the money makes the most sense. Judge staying with the Yankees makes the most sense, but a jump to the NL is more possible than you think.