Even though the 2018 season is still two weeks away, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is already extolling the virtues of playing in the Bronx to AL East rival Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately for the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, Major League Baseball was not quite as amused.
"We have been in contact with the Yankees," MLB told the Daily News. "They communicated to us that Mr. Judge's off the cuff comments were not appropriate and not authorized by the club. They will speak to him to make sure that this does not happen again."
Judge attempted to woo Machado during the clubs' Spring Training matchup on Wednesday afternoon.
"He just kind of laughed it off and didn't really say much," Judge said. "We talked a little bit, and I just asked him how his offseason was, how everything was going. I asked him how he liked [shortstop] and said 'you'd look pretty good in pinstripes, too.'"
Machado is expected to command in excess of $30 million annually if he hits the free agent market next year. The 25-year-old has topped 30 homers in each of the last three straight seasons for the Orioles. During that span he's produced a .280/.338/.502 slash line while averaging 35 home runs and 92 RBIs while playing in 313 of 324 games.
"He's one heck of a player, and he's been doing it for quite a few years at the best level," Judge said. "He's one of the best -- if not the best -- defensive third basemen in the game, and now he's probably going to be one of the best defensive shortstops. ... He's going to be a happy man when it comes to free agency, and picking where he wants to go."
The Yankees are trying to stay under the $197-million luxury-tax threshold this season. In doing so, they'd get a tax reset heading into 2019 when, in addition to Machado, Nationals OF Bryce Harper will also be eligible for free agency.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone didn't want to hear about Judge's pitch to a player under contract to another team -- "I don't think he said that," he said when asked about Judge's comments. "I'll leave that one alone." -- but he also downplayed the possibility while praising his club's young talent. With highly-touted prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, who impressed early in camp with four home runs, waiting in the wings, the Yankees appear set for the near future.
"I mean, just do the math on that," Boone said. "The flexibility that it allows you to have when you can develop impact players from within and continue to filter guys through the system. ... I don't care how much money you have, you can't just have free agent stars all over the map. You've got to be able to have guys from your system that come up and become a significant part of the core of the club all the time, and we feel like obviously we're in that situation here and we're in a good position going forward."