ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Aaron Judge just wants to “wear a nice suit” and “introduce myself and sit back” as a three-person arbitration panel debates whether the New York Yankees should pay their All-Star outfielder the $21 million salary he has 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,” Richter 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 and said they hated it. And then other people who’ve been through it said it was actually good to hear about it [yourself].”
The last Yankees player to go to arbitration was reliever Dellin Betances in 2017, Richter’s record-breaking Rookie of the Year season. An arbitration panel ruled in favor of the club and Betances spoke openly with his team-mates about the animosity that unfolded in the hearing room.
“[Betances] just didn’t like how the process went. … He gave a lot to this organization, the numbers he put up for a number of years, although he wasn’t closer, he did a lot of special things and maybe thought he should be reciprocated for that, but he didn’t. That’s not going to happen ‘ Judge said. “It’s probably tough, 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 likes it [either] you have to go through it and then you go on.”
Manager Aaron Boone praised how Judge has taken care of himself through the process, which hasn’t affected his popularity or performance. Earlier Tuesday, MLB announced the initial results of the All-Star voting, and Judge led all players with 1,512,368 votes. Judge may become the first Yankee to lead the majors in voting for the All-Star Game since Alex Rodriguez in 2008.
Judge’s 25 home runs this season is the most in the majors, and he became the third player in franchise history to hit at least 25 home runs in the first 62 games of a Yankees season, tied with Babe Ruth (28 a year 1928 and 26 in 1930) and Mickey Mantle (27 in 1956).
“Whatever happens there, I know what Aaron is focused on and what he wants to achieve, and I don’t expect anything to get in the way of that,” Boone said. “This is obviously a great player, but also a guy who’s just really good from the neck up, as far as dealing with everything that comes to him through fame, through being one of the faces of the game, a New York Yankee gets in the way. Things that happen or inevitably come up, in this case contractual situations and arbitrations and all that, he’s fully equipped to handle those things and not affect what he does between the lines.
Earlier in the season, Judge had expressed frustration at not securing a long-term contract extension with the Yankees, the club he had repeatedly said he wanted to spend the rest of his major league career with. The judge gave himself a deadline of opening day to agree on an extension, which would have prevented him from getting the free hand. But he and the Yankees did not reach an agreement. General manager Brian Cashman said the team offered a seven-year, $213.5 million extension, which combined with the $17 million it offered in arbitration this season, would have made the entire package something worth more than $230 million.
The judge declined to address the rare move by Cashman to publicly disclose the terms of the Yankees’ bid, describing it as the business side of baseball, which he repeated Tuesday. Cashman’s release of the exact numbers was something that didn’t sit well with the Yankees clubhouse, sources told ESPN.
The parties will hold the hearing via video conference unless an agreement is reached, which cannot be ruled out entirely, although the judge said he would not negotiate a contract extension during the season. The Yankees set a precedent in 2019 when pitcher Luis Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million extension just before his arbitration hearing.
Regarding whether the upcoming hearing was on his mind or served as a distraction, Judge said his focus had been on winning games.
“We’re the best team in the league. That’s in my head,” he said. “Being here with these guys and what we’ve been doing these past few months has made it pretty easy to focus on playing baseball. I could get involved in contractual matters or arbitration matters, but that is not necessary. That’s what I have agents for.”
AROLDIS CHAPMAN UPDATE
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who has been on the injured list since May 24 with left Achilles tendonitis, hosted a live batting practice session at the team’s minor-league complex in Tampa earlier Tuesday. The injury appears to have handicapped him this season, particularly in his last five appearances, in which he posted a 14.73 ERA after giving up six earned runs over 3⅔ innings.
Clay Holmes dazzled by taking on the closer role by not allowing a run in 29 straight relief appearances (31⅓ innings played) from April 9 to June 18, extending Mariano Rivera’s 28-game stretch for the longest scoreless streak of a Yankees pitcher in franchise history.
When asked if he felt he lost his role to Holmes, Chapman said that wasn’t his focus.
“I don’t see it that way. I’m past the point in my career where I would fight for a role, for the narrower role, I’ve already been through that,” Chapman said. “When I got into the big leagues they gave me an opportunity to close and I took it. Pretty much the same thing happens with [Holmes]. I try to come back healthy [to] Help the team in any role. He’s doing a great job at the moment and deserves the role he’s got.”