Aaron Judge Ponders ‘Another Move’ to Bolster Yankees Roster

Aaron Judge

Getty Aaron Judge says "I definitely feel like there might be another move on the way" for the Yankees.

Spring training has begun with several big-name players available as unsigned free agents. Aaron Judge, the face of the New York Yankees, hopes management will take advantage of the remaining talent on the market.

“I definitely feel like there might be another move on the way, but you never know. We’ll see,” Judge told reporters February 20 when asked if the Yankees could make another addition. “I hope so, they’re always working. That’s the thing that’s amazing about being here with the Yankees is they’re always trying to improve, make moves whether it’s via trade or free agency.”

Top remaining free agents include 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger, two-time Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, reliable starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery, four-time Gold Glove winning third-baseman Matt Chapman, and six-time All-Star slugger J.D. Martinez. All of these remaining free agents are repped by Scott Boras, a renowned hard-ball negotiator.

The Yankees have been most linked to free agents Snell and Montgomery to boost a starting rotation anchored by ace Gerrit Cole. General manager Brian Cashman said February 15 that pitching was the team’s biggest current concern, reported The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty.

Behind Cole are plenty of question marks, as projected No. 2 through 4 starters Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman and Nestor Cortes each throwing under 140 innings last season while battling health issues and/or ineffective performance. MLB.com has projected Clarke Schmidt, a former first-round pick, to be the team’s fifth starter. He is the only current projected starter behind Cole to have pitched close to a full season in 2023, as Clarke compiled a 4.62 ERA in 32 starts.

Insiders Conflicted on Yankees’ Interest in Blake Snell

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported February 18 that the Yankees are still showing “serious interest” in signing Snell, who spent the last three years with the San Diego Padres. Before signing Stroman to a two-year, $37 million deal in January, the Yankees offered Snell a reported $150 million over six years. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported February 19 that Snell still has an offer on the table from the Yanks.

However, NJ.com’s Randy Miller reported February 19 that both Feinsand and Nightengale’s recent reports on the Yankees and Snell were “inaccurate” and that the Yankees have not made a second offer to Snell since their initial $150 million offer made before Stroman was signed.

“Snell’s agent Scott Boras, or his camp, is likely drastically overstating the Yankees’ interest to drive up the price with the two teams most motivated to sign the lefthander — the Giants and Angels,” Miller wrote February 19 for NJ.com. “[My] industry source believes the Yankees wouldn’t circle back to Snell unless one of their starters gets hurt this spring and the price drops significantly.”

Miller’s source added that Snell has been seeking a nine-year, $270 million contract but is now willing to take less. Snell, 31, was 14-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 32 starts with the Padres last season to win his second career Cy Young.

Luxury Tax Implications If Yankees Sign Blake Snell

The Athletic reported February 19 that the Yankees currently have a projected competitive balance tax payroll above $297 million, which is MLB’s highest luxury tax tier. The team would thus incur a 110% tax on every dollar it spends above the $297 million payroll threshold.

“For example, if the Yankees were to offer Snell a one-year contract worth $40 million, they would have to pay $44 million in luxury tax penalties, bringing the total outlay to $84 million,” wrote Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

This luxury tax factor could severely restrict the Yankees efforts to lure Snell or Montgomery to improve their rotation. A cheaper alternative could be trading for Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease, but so far the Yankees have refused to part ways with prized top prospect Spencer Jones.

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