We have used this idea for the last couple of years. The idea is to go through some of the top free agents, use the contract FanGraphs suggests they will get and have a poll asking if we would like to sign him for that amount.
Ben Clemens has Aaron Judge as the top free agent of this off-season, Keith Law has him in the four spot.
Law worries that he is 31 in April. He tells us that players as tall as Judge tend not to age well:
But there’s a catch: Judge is going to be 31 in the first year of his contract, and the history of position players 6-foot-7 or taller as they age into their 30s is not promising. Only three players that height have even had 100 AB in a season at 31 or older – Frank Howard, Richie Sexson, and Tony Clark – and the three accounted for just six seasons worth 1 WAR or more, four from Howard and one each from the other two. All were effectively done by age 35, with Sexson done after age 31. Judge is a better athlete than any of those guys, and still plays in the middle of the field, while none of those three did, so he might have a different future.
But a big part of the problem for position players that tall is that they seem to get hurt more often, and that has been part of Judge’s history. So if you’re wondering why the AL MVP, coming off a truly historic season, isn’t the No. 1 free agent on these rankings, that’s the reason, and it’s why I’d give him $35-40 million a year but would be wary of anything past four years guaranteed.
Judge does have a pretty bad injury history. He has only played 140 games or more thrice in his seven-year career.
Ben echoes that worry about his age but still feels he is the top free agent out there and will be the best player on whatever team signs him.
You don’t get to sign people to provide last year’s statistics, and Judge will be 31 next year; the team that signs him isn’t assured he’ll be good forever. But he’s so good right now, and has been so good when healthy his entire career, that it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to predict future success.
Ben thinks he will sign for 9 years at $35 million a year, giving a total of $315 million. That contract for a player on the wrong side of 30 would worry me. I think there was be 3 or 4 seasons at the end of it that will have the team paying for nothing. But then there will be a few seasons where he will carry the team to the playoffs no matter what the rest of the team does.
Defensively, he played center and right field last year. I don’t think I’d want him playing center, but he wasn’t bad at it. With his injury history, I think I wouldn’t want him playing just a taxing position in his 30s (but then I think the same about George Springer).
If you want to be realistic about things, it would be hard to add needed pitching if the Jays signed someone to a $35 million contract. I can’t see the Jays wanting to blow past the Luxury Tax.
But then, if you have a team that scores 15 runs a game, who needs pitching? I mean, if they score like that, I could fill the fifth starter role (well, not me, but some of you could).
Should the Blue Jays sign Aaron Judge if the price is $35 million a year for 9 years?
This poll is closed
Probably, but I’m not enthusiastic about if
Probably no, but I wouldn’t hate it
No, Absolutely not