It was exactly what Yankees fans have been aching to hear.
Aaron Judge said he’ll be healthy all next season and beyond.
“I’ll have a good offseason, stay healthy and play a full year not only next year but for many years to come,” Judge said during an online meet-and-greet with fans on Fanatics.com Thursday night. “I’m looking forward to that.”
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Judge was responding to a question from a fan about his health.
“I’m feeling great,” Judge said. “Finally going to have a good offseason. No injuries (at the) end of the year. That’s one thing that always makes it tough. When playoffs come around, if you’ve got injuries, you put those to the side and just play through it. So, this year, kind of having nothing going into the end of the year has been great.”
When Judge has been healthy, he’s been among the best players in the sport, a rare blend of size (6-foot-8, 275 pounds), power and athleticism.
But the 28-year-old has had difficulty staying on the field.
In 2020, he missed 32 regular season games thanks to a Grade 1 right calf strain, hitting nine homers with 22 RBI and a .257 batting average. He didn’t play a game during spring training in Tampa, dealing with a cracked rib and a punctured lung that the team believed he suffering trying to make a diving catch in in September 2019.
In 2018, he played 112 games, missing two months due to a fastball fracturing his hand. In 2019, he played 102 games, suffering an oblique strain. He also finished the 2016 season — when he made his big-league debut — on the injured list with an oblique strain. Judge exploded onto the scene in 2017, winning AL Rookie of the Year and nabbing runner-up for MVP with 52 home runs and 114 RBI. After that season, he had arthroscopic surgery in his left shoulder for a cartilage cleanup.
Staying healthy could also be the key to Judge and the Yankees connecting on a big-money deal that keeps him in the Bronx.
Judge could become a free agent following the 2022 season. In 2021, he’s all but set to get a raise over the prorated $8.5 million he made in 2020 since he’ll be entering his second year of salary arbitration eligibility.
Judge also predicted that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will be active on the free agent market.
“We’ve got a young, good core of players on our team,” Judge said after he was asked what fans should expect from the Yankees in 2020. “I think we’re going to be adding a couple of guys free agent-wise to our team that are going to help kind of give us that boost to kind of get to the next step. I know every year that I’ve played, we’ve been in the playoffs and we’ve had an OK run here and there. But it’s not our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to bring a championship home back to New York and I think we’re going to be making some changes. That was the craziest thing about 2020. We got a chance to call up some rookies that normally might not have been called up or might not have made it to the big leagues. Now they’ve got their shot. The guys we’ve got in our farm system — we’ve got something special. I think not only next year, but the next couple of years, we’re going to be doing something special in New York.”
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