NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s no “I” in Aaron Judge.
The Yankees’ star outfielder told TMZ Sports on Monday that he’d move from right field to center field in a second if it meant the club sign free agent superstar Bryce Harper.
“[Harper has] got more speed than me, man,” Judge said. “Wherever he wants to play, we’ll make it work.”
Someone first needs to convince Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman to pony up the cash needed to bring Harper on board. The 26-year-old slugger figured to be the hottest commodity on the open market this winter, but with spring training set to begin later this month, he is still looking for the right fit.
As is Manny Machado, who met with the Yankees weeks ago, but has still not received a satisfactory offer from any team.
Granted, both Harper and Machado are reportedly looking for contracts up to 10 years in length and in the neighborhood of $300 million. Currently, the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres have expressed varying measures of interest in both, while the Washington Nationals continue to hang on the periphery, hoping they can re-sign Harper.
The Yankees’ pursuit of Machado has cooled considerably over the last few weeks, with New York signing veterans Troy Tulowitzki and D.J. LeMahieu in the hope of having a versatile infield and deep bench, with far less long-term commitments.
An outfield of Judge, Harper and Giancarlo Stanton would be incredible on many levels, but mostly because the Yankees’ projected opening day lineup is right-handed hitting heavy. Harper’s lefty swing, which has generated 184 home runs and 521 RBIs in seven seasons, seems like it would be a natural fit with that short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.
However, the Bombers currently have six outfielders, including starting center fielder Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier, who at the very least could platoon in left, and veteran Jacoby Ellsbury, who, if healthy, figures to come off the bench. Stanton could spend the majority of his playing time as the designated hitter, but the Yanks would still have too many outfielders to make a Harper marriage work.
But don’t tell that to Judge.
“Any time you can add an MVP to a team, it’s going to make it better,” Judge said. “So, it just all depends on where he wants to go. [Manny] Machado, Bryce Harper, any of them.”
New York reportedly has talked to the San Francisco Giants about a potential swap of Ellsbury and injured right-hander Johnny Cueto, though nothing appears imminent.