Aaron Judge would be great for White Sox in 2023 and beyond
By Chip Egan
Let me first preface this by stating if the Chicago White Sox have still not figured out their right-field situation by the time the 2023 season begins, then they need to do a better job of how they assess talent and how to pay for it.
There are a number of solid players available to fill the team’s current need to patrol right field. Free agents such as Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Schwarber will be available to sign once the lockout comes to an end. The Sox might even take the route of staying in-house by going with Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets, or Andrew Vaughn.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the Sox don’t sign a top free agent, and guys currently on the roster don’t pan out as hoped, thus leading to right field still falling into the “in need of” category. There is one player who will be a free agent at that time who might be an interesting solution and that is Aaron Judge.
The current New York Yankees’ right fielder is under contract through next year for $17 million and will be 31 years old when the 2023 season gets underway. Certainly, he will not come cheap, nor would other available players such as Charlie Blackmon, Wil Myers, and Stephen Piscotty. Based on the free agents available according to Spotrac, Judge would be one of the younger players available to sign.
The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year would bring a bat that would more than fit nicely into an already potent lineup. Judge is a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner with his most recent coming this past season when he belted 39 homers while driving in 98 and posting a slash line of .287/.373/.544.
Aaron Judge would fit in so well on the White Sox at any point in his prime.
Over the course of his short career, Judge has been hampered by injuries that have cost him large amounts of playing time. However, 2021 saw him start 122 games in the outfield and another 22 at designated hitter. That 144-game total was the most since he played 155 games in ’17.
Not only did Judge have an excellent year at the plate but he also played well in the field. His .986 fielding percentage was fourth-best for American League right fielders. That, combined with his hitting, put him on the first team All MLB team for 2021.
Obviously, being a Yankee means being in the postseason just about every year and Judge has plenty of experience in that department which would help the White Sox. Judge has appeared in 35 post-season games and has homered 11 times and driven in 22 runs. On the downside, he hit only .230 over that period and has struck out 51 times in 135 at-bats.
Judge is a terrific player who would certainly help out any team he plays for. His being traded before reaching free agency has been speculated as has the possibility of his signing a long-term deal to remain in pinstripes.
As mentioned earlier, the Sox will look to lock up their right field vacancy this offseason with someone who will man the position for years to come. That may happen via free agency or from someone currently on the roster. Judge coming over now is not something that is going to happen but it would be interesting to think about it if the opportunity presented itself.