The offseason started with the bangiest of bangs when MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported the Los Angeles Dodgers were considering moving Mookie Betts to second base in order to make room for star free agent Aaron Judge.
About that … hmmm, what have we got on that front? Judge has so far met with the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants since free agency started. That’s it. He’s reportedly received an eight-year, $300 million contract from the Yanks, which would make him the highest-paid position player on an AAV basis ($37.5 million) in MLB history.
The Dodgers were “rumored” to have offered Judge a $214 million contract, but the veracity of that report has been put into serious question for a multitude of reasons. The length of the deal was never revealed; Judge has yet to meet with the Dodgers based on reports from the game’s top insiders; and Judge rejected a $213.5 million offer from the Yankees before the 2022 season started, so why would he take that same offer from LA?
In summation, if Dodgers fans are truly hoping for Judge to come across the country, they have to know it’s going to take a massive long-term offer or a one-of-a-kind short-term offer in addition to spending assurances elsewhere on the roster to bolster their “World Series contender” standing.
But it’s becoming more and more evident that’s probably not going to happen. ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan weighed in on the Dodgers’ chances with Judge prior to Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s not looking promising for LA.
Don’t count on the Dodgers landing free agent superstar Aaron Judge
On The Michael Kay Show via ESPN Radio last week, here’s what Passan had to say about Judge and the Dodgers, which was one of many free agent scenarios discussed on the show:
"“Are the Dodgers a threat [for Aaron Judge],” asked co-host Don La Greca.“Ehhh … I think if the market doesn’t materialize the way that Aaron Judge is hoping it would, that the Dodgers could sneak in. But are they a team that’s going to be up in the low- to mid-$300 million range where I think this thing is going to end up? No, I don’t think they’re going to be there.”"
"“Or how about Aaron Judge? There’s obvious interest there for the Dodgers, but that appears to be a Giants-Yankees fight at this point in the offseason.”"
Passan’s comment about Judge’s market materializing was an intriguing one because it’s safe to say not many expected it to “materialize” beyond its current point anyway. Judge is entering his age-31 season, and whether you believe he’s “injury-prone” or not, the injury history is there for teams to express concern. Additionally, the Yankees have made it clear they won’t be outbid for their franchise player, so the market coming into focus doesn’t really matter.
Outside of 2020, both the Yankees and Dodgers have disappointed over the last five or so seasons in October, with more early playoff exits than not. Yet both remain among the best equipped to make World Series runs. Unless the Dodgers blow Judge away, he has no reason to leave New York, a team that’s already added to their payroll by retaining Anthony Rizzo, while LA has cut funds to presumably get below the second or third luxury tax threshold in 2023.
If we’re doing a temperature check, the Dodgers are lukewarm at best.