PITTSBURGH — As he watches Aaron Judge end off what may be a historic season en route to free agency, Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday he “doesn’t regret” not signing the slugger last offseason.
“We made an offer that I think is very good,” the Yankees’ managing general partner said on a Zoom call. “It was based on the numbers, of course, but it was also based in part on what it means to the organization. It was a combination of both. And we just didn’t get a deal made.”
Before the deadline for Judge’s opening day, the Yankees made a $213.5 million seven-year extension offer to Judge.
Since then, the two sides have avoided arbitration by settling minutes before a $19 million hearing with bonuses that could take it to $19.5 million after the Yankees offered $17 million and the Judges had asked for $21 million.
“We had less time [to negotiate] than normal because of the lockout this offseason,” Steinbrenner said. “There are no regrets. At some point we will have talks.”
When asked if he thinks they’ll have to increase the supply if they get back to the table, Steinbrenner said, “That’s a hypothesis,” but didn’t rule it out.
“We still have three, hopefully four months left in the season with the whole postseason,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re halfway through the season. is it a possibility Of course it’s a possibility. I’ll cross this bridge when I get to it.”
Like Judge, Steinbrenner said he would not discuss the contract situation during the season.
“We will not be giving any updates,” Steinbrenner said. “I totally agree with Aaron – and still do – that this cannot be a distraction in any way. Our only focus is on winning a championship. That’s all anyone needs to worry about now. We’ll see where we end up.”
The judge made his case by entering Wednesday’s game against the Pirates with an MLB high of 29 homers and was the central part of an offense that put the Yankees to a 58-23 start.
“Aaron is a great Yankee and very valuable to the organization,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s a great leader. Obviously he has put in a very good performance this year which we are all excited about.”
Speaking of the post-season discussions, when Judge can go to the open market for the first time after the World Series, Steinbrenner said, “Every great Yankee, it’s going to be something that we’re going to look at and talk about seriously. He means a lot to the organization. No one will dispute that.”
Asked if he was “optimistic or hopeful” that the team could secure a long-term deal with the star, Steinbrenner said: “We’re undoubtedly confident that’s the case. But there’s a lot to discuss and I’m always ready to talk.”
He also defended the team and general manager Brian Cashman publicly announcing his offer to Judge, which Judge acknowledged upset him.
“To my knowledge, we announced what we offered,” Steinbrenner said. “We knew this was going to come out anyway. As [Cashman] said we wanted to be as transparent as possible.”
Stienbrenner and the Yankees will soon find out just how much it’s going to cost them to keep Judge around.
“He was phenomenal,” said Steinbrenner. “Not only with his play on the field, but also with his leadership. He’s a confident guy, a great talent and he believes in himself. You can see that this year and we are all excited.”