You can forget about Aaron Judge participating in the Home Run Derby anytime soon. Last week Judge told Ken Davidoff and Anthony Rieber he is done with the event despite the new $1M winner’s prize. “The only thing that will make me want to participate would be if the All-Star Game would ever be in New York City again,” he said.
“Maybe if the All-Star break was a week long and I actually had a break, I would be more enticed to do it. But the money doesn’t change it,” Judge added. “It affected me because I hurt my shoulder. But my swing-wise, no. I was just taking BP. That was probably the worst thing having to hear every single day, people saying, ‘Did it affect you?’ Nah, it was a day of BP. It doesn’t really affect me. If I didn’t get hurt, it would have been a different story.”
Judge won the 2017 Home Run Derby with hilarious ease, but he hurt his left shoulder crashing into the outfield wall about a week before the event, and it wasn’t until last season that he admitted the Home Run Derby exacerbated the injury. The shoulder injury required offseason arthroscopic surgery and likely contributed to his August 2017 slump. All is good with the shoulder now though, thankfully.
The Yankees signed Judge to a $684,300 contract earlier this month, though he also received a $1.8M bonus as a first round pick back in the day, plus he has lucrative endorsement deals with Pepsi and Adidas. He probably doesn’t need the money as much as the typical pre-arbitration-eligible player. “(The $1M prize will) entice a couple people … But, nah, it really doesn’t draw me in,” he said.
Giancarlo Stanton is a maybe — “I always enjoy doing it. It just depends on where I’m at in the season and how I feel. That’s the most important thing,” he said — and Brett Gardner jokingly said he’s in. Maybe Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres will take their hacks this year? Or Gary Sanchez again if he has a bounceback season? Having a Yankee in the event is a good thing for baseball overall.
Personally, I am pretty bummed Judge is passing on the Home Run Derby, though I totally get it. He’s won it once already, and it came with a physical toll. Every year Home Run Derby participants and All-Stars say the All-Star break doesn’t feel like an actual break because there’s so much going on. Judge is likely a perennial All-Star going forward, so skipping the Home Run Derby equals one fewer obligation.
MLB and the MLBPA jointly announced the Home Run Derby prize money has been increased to $1M this year as part of their recent sweeping rule changes. Previously the winner received a $150,000 bonus. New York last hosted the All-Star Game at Citi Field in 2013. The old Yankee Stadium hosted the All-Star Game back in 2008 and I imagine the new Yankee Stadium is in the queue for the 2020s.