SAN DIEGO — The Yankees announced a contract signing on Monday, though it wasn’t the one that their fan base has been eagerly awaiting.
While Aaron Judge’s 2023 employer remains undetermined as he engages in free-agent discussions with multiple clubs, the Yankees announced a four-year deal for their longtime baseball operations executive, General Manager Brian Cashman.
Already the longest-tenured G.M. in Yankees history, Cashman, who had been working without a deal this off-season, signed an agreement that takes him through the 2026 season as the team’s senior vice president and G.M. Terms were not disclosed.
Cashman replaced Bob Watson before the 1998 campaign and has steered the Yankees into the postseason in 21 of his 25 seasons.
He noted that Hal Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner, indicated that he wanted the general manager to return and “so we finally had a quick conversation recently. It wasn’t dragging out, there wasn’t a lot of back and forth. It was something we got done rather quickly. We were focused on things other than that.”
One of those things is the competitive pursuit of Judge, who rebuffed the Yankees’ offer of seven years and $213.5 million on the eve of the 2022 season and then went out and hit 62 home runs, an American League single-season record. Of all the items on the club’s to-do list, bringing back Judge is at the top.
Cashman said on Monday during the first full day of this week’s winter meetings in San Diego that he had a conversation with Page Odle, Judge’s agent, earlier in the day and that talks continue. But he declined to give a status report on the talks other than to say “we are negotiating hard.”
He added that the club “has made a number of offers” to Judge this off-season and that, “certainly, we’d love to land the plane favorably here in New York, in the Bronx, but we’re not flying the plane. So we’ll wait for this process to play out.”
Many in the industry believe San Francisco is the chief threat to steal Judge away from the Yankees. The Giants have money to spend, a need for an outfield slugger and geographically are the closest to Judge’s hometown, Linden, Calif.
But the Yankees are hoping that their history with him and their financial wherewithal will sway him to stay on track to become a career Yankee.
“We’d love to have our player back,” Cashman said. “We’d love to continue to call him our player every step of the way as he follows what looks like, as long as nothing happens, a career path to Cooperstown. We’d love him to be in pinstripes every step of the way.”
One rumor swept through the hotel lobby Monday afternoon that Judge would be at the meetings on Tuesday. That seemed far-fetched when Judge was photographed attending New Orleans’ football game with Tampa Bay while wearing a Buccaneers jersey Monday night in Florida.
Asked if he had given Judge’s camp a final offer, or a deadline to sign so that he could get on with constructing the rest of next year’s roster, Cashman said he hadn’t and, as of now, he would not.
“I just don’t want to play a game of ‘take this, I need to know now,’ and risk what comes from that,” Cashman said. “I’m not doing that to this player. He’s too important to us. He’s got a lot of leverage he’s put himself in, he’s earned that right, we should respect that.”
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said Monday that he spoke with Judge “a few days ago” but that it was more of a check-in from a manager-player perspective “sprinkled in with a little, let’s go.”
Boone also expressed relief that Cashman would be tied to the Yankees for the next four years.
This summer, Cashman, 55, surpassed Ed Barrow (1920-45) as the longest-serving G.M. in club history. He also is the game’s longest-tenured current head of baseball operations, ranking ahead of the Chicago White Sox’s Kenny Williams and the St. Louis Cardinals’ John Mozeliak.
In an increasingly young man’s game, Cashman said it’s easy to identify what keeps him interested and coming back.
“I’m competitive,” he said Monday in San Diego. “I’m wired that way. You make up challenges. I want to win. First and foremost, I love being a part of this organization. They are committed to try to win, not in the future but obviously in the present. We have an amazing crew of people I work with in the front office, scouts, coaching staff, our manager, and it runs all way through, not just in baseball operations.”
Cashman continued, saying, “It’s a great company to be a part of. Our fan base is obviously intense and demanding, and it drives you. You can’t be sleeping at the wheel. They may perceive you to be sleeping at the wheel and accuse you of that, but that doesn’t happen. I love trying to be a part of a team that is figuring out ways to be better than your previous version of yourself.”