A perplexing 2021 MLB season for the New York Yankees concluded with them losing the American League Wild Card Game to the rival Boston Red Sox, 6-2. Now their attention shifts to a bevy of pivotal questions.

Do they move on from manager Aaron Boone and/or general manager Brian Cashman? Should they dip their feet in the historic upcoming free agent shortstop class? Do they trade a handful of young players for an impact bat or top-of-the-rotation starter? The question more vital than the answer to the aforementioned thoughts is what right fielder Aaron Judge’s future is in the Bronx?

A free agent after 2022, New York’s immediate focus should be on paying the big man. Here’s why extending Judge a year before he hits the open market is an essential course of action for the Yankees this offseason.

 

Aaron Judge is the constant for the New York Yankees

Judge is the Yankees’ best player based on consistency. He’s a compact hitter with elite power who moves well across the basepaths and fields his position well. Judge put together quite possibly the most balanced season of his MLB career in 2021.

Aaron Judge stats (2021): .287/.373/.544, 39 home runs and 98 RBIs across 550 at-bats

Yes, Judge had an MVP-caliber rookie season, highlighted by him blasting 52 home runs. At the same time, the 2021 season saw Judge strike out at a career-low clip, stay healthy for most of the season and put together the team’s best individual campaign at the plate.

Furthermore, Judge finished the regular season in the top one percent of MLB in average exit velocity (95.8 mph), maximum exit velocity (119 mph), hard-hit percentage (58.4 percent), and in the top four percent in barrel percentage (17.6 percent) per Statcast. He also posted 11 Defensive Runs Saved in right field.