San Francisco Giants' confidence is quietly growing in Aaron Judge sweepstakes | Opinion




SAN DIEGO - The San Francisco Giants' confidence is growing in their hopes of signing American League MVP Aaron Judge, with team officials divulging Monday that they have become ultra-aggressive in their talks to land the New York Yankees star.

There was a report by MLB.com that Judge was scheduled to be in San Diego at the winter meetings on Tuesday, but one person close to Judge said Monday night that no trip was planned. Judge was spotted at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints in Tampa.

The Yankees continue to have active talks with Judge, the prize of the free-agent market, but have no indication where Judge is leaning. They spoke with Judge's representatives on Monday, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman said there are no scheduled face-to-face meetings with Judge.

"I can tell you I had a conversation with his agent [Page Odle],'' Cashman said Monday evening, "but that didn't come up. We're still talking. It's his dance card. He's a free agent and he has a chance to make decisions for him and his family. I can tell you we are negotiating hard. ...

"He's earned the right to go through the process. Certainly, we'd love to land the plane favorably here in New York, but we're not flying the plane. So we'll wait for this process to play out."

Aaron Judge hit an American League-record 62 home runs during the 2022 season.
Aaron Judge hit an American League-record 62 home runs during the 2022 season.  

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The Yankees have made several offers to Judge since their seven-year, $213.5 million proposal before opening day, including a recent eight-year deal worth between $288 million and $304 million. Cashman declined to say whether the Yankees would make an additional offer.

Cashman has not met in person with Judge since the season's conclusion, but said that Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner had a face-to-face meeting with their slugger this winter in Tampa.

"I can tell you Hal is putting his money where his mouth is,'' said Cashman, whose four-year contract was announced Monday. "He told the fanbase that he would make every effort to re-sign this player. Doesn't guarantee anything.  Just re-state we'd love to have our player back. 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."

The Yankees could be in the free-agent hunt for a marquee player such as free-agent shortstops Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts, as well as Giants ace Carlos Rodón, but said they are hamstrung until learning whether Judge returns.

They would love for Judge to make a decision as quickly as possible, giving them the opportunity to jump into the high stakes free-agent market to fill the void if Judge departs, but Cashman said they would not impose or even suggest any deadlines.

"You could take a position like that,'' Cashman said, "but the position we're taking is trying to provide him time and opportunity and consideration to make best decision for him and his family. I'm not putting a timeframe on him as of today out of respect for the position he's earned himself in free agency.

"I just don't want to play a game of, 'Take this, I need to know now,' and the risk what comes from that. I'm not doing that to this player. He's too important to us.''

Cashman, who declined to say he knew what it would take to sign Judge, revealed that Judge and his representatives have not provided any indication they would have the opportunity to match an offer by the Giants or anyone else.

"He's got a lot of leverage he's put himself in,'' Cashman said. "He's earned that right. We should respect that. Certainly, at the end of day, when the dust settles and negotiations been exhausted, and he's had a chance to vet every opportunity that exists, he will realize this is best place for him and his family moving forward.

"If he doesn't, we'll thank him for his time here, and find ways to be the best versions of ourselves as we move forward like we always have.''

Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aaron Judge free agency: Giants have hopes of signing slugger

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