Aaron Judge’s future is uncertain. Whether it’s the same for Aaron Boone remains to be seen.
Judge’s career in pinstripes could be over when he reached the finals in Sunday night’s 5-6 loss to the Houston Astros that ended a four-game AL Championship Series win as the Yankees hit another defensive line -Core collapsed.
“To get the chance to wear the pinstripes and play on the right field at Yankee Stadium is an incredible honor that I definitely never took for granted,” said Judge in the quiet clubhouse. “I always check myself before the game and say a little prayer and look around the stadium and pinch myself a bit.”
“Very few people get the chance to skate on this field and play in front of the fans who have supported us throughout my six years here,” he added. “It was a special time and I kick myself for not bringing that championship home to them.”
In the hours leading up to Opening Day, Judge turned down a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29, opting instead to be eligible for free agency after the World Series.
He set an American League record with 62 home runs, took the lead in the major leagues with 131 RBIs, and finished second in the AL with a .311 batting average. But he hit just .139 with three RBIs and 15 postseason strikeouts, going 1-for-16 (.063) with no RBIs against the Astros. He made the finals as a comebacker.
“It’s baseball, man. I mean, it happens all the time when the biggest of the big are going through a fight,” Boone said. “It’s a game of failure. You’re going to have some ups and downs.”
Able to negotiate with all teams from day six after the World Series, Judge deserves a big reward for backing himself. He could have a $300 million contract.
“It will all go through my agent,” he said. “I haven’t even thought about the next step. But as I said, we have time to find out.”
Boone agreed to a three-year contract with a team option for 2025 last October. In his fifth season as manager, New York sprinted to a 61-23 record in early July, setting a comparison with the 1998 championship Yankees. But hampered by injuries, the Yankees went 38-40 the rest of the way.
Cleveland expanded the Division Series to five games, and Boone’s pitching and outfield decisions have been repeatedly questioned. Debate will only increase after he left in Nestor Cortes on Sunday night and All-Star left-hander allowed Jeremy Pena’s tying three-run homer. Boone then removed Cortes and the Yankees announced that the left-hander suffered a repeat groin injury.
The New York defense was a constant problem in the playoffs, making six errors and failing multiple times. The Yankees hit .173 with 103 strikeouts in nine postseason games, including .162 against the Astros. Jose Trevino was 0 for 11, Oswaldo Cabrera 0 for 9 and Josh Donaldson 1 for 13.
“I could sit here and apologize if a ball falls that way, a ball falls that way, or a pitch is made here and there,” Richter said. “But it comes down to the fact that they just played better than us, played better defense, had big hits and got away with the series.”
Without a World Series title since 2009, New York is entering an offseason in which pitcher Jameson Taillon, outfielder Andrew Benintendim, and utilitymen Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez are in for free-hands, along with Chad Green, Miguel Castro, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman question come .
“They risked me coming back from rehab and elbow surgery,” Taillon said. “I loved my time here. I would definitely like to come back.”
First baseman Anthony Rizzo can opt out and forego a $16 million salary for next season, and the Yankees will likely exercise a $15 million option on pitcher Luis Severino rather than a $2.75 million buyout to count.
Brian Cashman, general manager since 1998, is ending a five-year contract. He’s tried to retool the roster in recent years to make batting order less right-handed and improve defense. The process began when Gleyber Torres traded to second base in September 2021 and traded catcher Gary Sánchez last winter, and kept up with August’s acquisition of midfielder Harrison Bader, who hit .333 with five homers in the postseason.
New York missed DJ LeMahieu, who may need toe surgery, and Benintendi, who is recovering from wrist surgery.
“It’s a terrible day, just a terrible ending. It hurts. It hurts,” Boone said. “Obviously we were missing some key contributors who I think could potentially have made the difference for us.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
Get more out of the New York Yankees Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more