Yankees' Aaron Judge discusses upcoming arbitration hearing

Yankees’ Aaron Judge discusses upcoming arbitration hearing

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With his arbitration hearing date approaching, Aaron Judge said he’s not worried about any ill will impacting what’s been an excellent start to his season with the Yankees.

“It’s all business,” Judge said Tuesday.

The Yankees and Judge have a few more days to strike a deal before they have to head to an arbitration hearing.

The hearing is set for Friday, with Judge seeking $21 million for this season and the Yankees countering with $17 million.

Even though it’s set during the season, the three-person panel will not be able to consider what Judge has done so far this season in coming to a ruling on his salary for this season.

That’s bad news for Judge, who has been on a tear for much of the year, leading the majors in homers with 25 and in All-Star voting, which was released on Tuesday.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge
Getty Images

And the timing is awkward, since the lockout forced many of the hearings to be done during the regular season.

Dellin Betances and the Yankees famously butted heads in 2017, when Betances lost his case and he got into a bitter feud with team president Randy Levine, but Judge said it wouldn’t be an issue for him.

“It’s probably tough [for some people],’ Judge said before Tuesday’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. “For me, it’s plain and simple. I love this team, I love this organization, but this is the business side of it. I don’t like it at times. I don’t think a lot of people like it. I don’t think the team likes it. You have to go through it and you handle it and move on.”

The hearing will be done on Zoom, so Judge won’t be in the room, but he will watch the hearing.

“That’s the plan,” Judge said. “I’ve had people in my agency, past players, [who] said they hated it and others said it was good to hear what they said about me. I’m looking forward to it.”

Judge added he didn’t expect to participate in the hearing — other than listening in.

Asked whether he had any optimism a deal could be struck before the hearing, Judge said, “I’ve got no answer for that yet.”

Since the beginning of the season — like all other arbitration-eligible players — Judge has been paid the lower amount. If he wins his case, the difference will be made up.

Judge is in this spot due in part to the fact he rejected the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer prior to Opening Day.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge
AP

It was a gamble by Judge and one that has gotten off to a very good start, as he’s cemented himself as one of the premier players in the game — and this year, he’s basically become the everyday center fielder, which could increase his value.

But Judge insisted the contract situation hasn’t affected his play on the field.

“I’m not motivated by that kind of stuff,” Judge said. “I’m motivated by what this team is doing, the special talent and opportunity we have ahead of us. I block the business out.”

Aaron Boone said he’s not worried it will have an affect on Judge — regardless of the outcome.

“Whatever happens there, I know what Aaron’s focus is and what he wants to accomplish,” Boone said. “I don’t expect anything to get in the way of that. … I think he’s shown you who he’s been throughout his career, so I don’t think it should be a surprise to anyone. Obviously, he’s a great player, a guy who’s really good from the neck up. He’s fully equipped to handle these things.”

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