Coming off a legendary 2022 season in which he set the American League single-season record for home runs and took home MVP laurels, slugger Aaron Judge is a free agent. While a return to the incumbent New York Yankees seems to be the most likely outcome, at least at this juncture, any number of teams can use Judge's elite offensive production and broad base of skills. One of those teams is the San Francisco Giants, so let's now make the case as to why they should vigorously pursue Judge this offseason.
One of the biggest reasons the 2022 Giants sloughed off a whopping 26 wins from their 2021 total (107 wins to 81 in 2022) was the decline of the offense. In 2021, they ranked second in the National League in runs scored and led the NL in OPS and home runs. This season, the San Fran offense slipped back to seventh in the NL in runs scored, eighth in OPS, and sixth in home runs. That's not terrible in isolation, but it's a steep drop-off. Framed another way, the Giants in 2022 scored 88 fewer runs than the 2021 model did, and that's despite having the universal DH in place this past season. That team-wide regression on offense wasn't particularly surprising given some of the performances that drove the 2021 attack.
Suffice it to say, adding Judge to the fray would improve the offense significantly. In 157 regular-season games, he slashed .311/.425/.686, which comes to sky-scraping OPS+ of 211. In addition to those 62 home runs, Judge also led the AL in walks and boasted top-of-the-scale batted-ball metrics. It's likely that 2022 will stand as Judge's career year, but even if he returns to earthly dimensions moving forward, he's going to remain an elite force at the plate. After all, Judge coming into last season had a career OPS+ of 150, averaging 45 home runs and 102 walks per 162 games played. Remove 2022 from the calculus, and he still looks like one of the best hitters in the game today. No one on the market promises to improve a lineup like Judge does.
Speaking of the San Fran lineup, Judge would fill a damaging hole in it. Judge last season spent the majority of his defensive innings in center, but ideally he's a regular right fielder, where he excels with the glove. Speaking of right field, Giants RFers last season combined to "hit" just .205/.285/.378. At the OPS level, that's 51 points worse than the MLB average for the position. Right now, the Giants probably have Luis González penciled in as the primary in right. The 27-year-old González was a 2021 waiver claim from the White Sox, and he's got a career OPS+ of 95 at the highest level. That is to say, he's not what the Giants need.