Every time Aaron Judge launches a screamer to the upper decks, that's one more homer that the Yankees didn't need to pay Bryce Harper $400 million to hit.
That's the logic ESPN senior writer Andrew Marchand presented last month to suggest that Judge could disrupt the Yankees' plans to go after Harper in 2018.
And after Judge won the Home Run Derby last night over a hitter like Giancarlo Stanton, it's becoming more and more apparent that he's checking the key boxes that Harper would for the Yankees.
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1) He's got the star power. After the derby victory, MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said Judge could "become the face of the game." Speaking to ESPN, Judge's agent said he has been approached daily by brands wanting a piece of his client's celebrity.
2) He's got the hitting power. Judge is leading the MLB with 30 homers and 75 runs at the All-Star Break. At this point in the season, Judge bests Harper in batting average, home runs, RBIs and on-base percentage.
But unlike Harper – who reportedly could command up to $500 million in free agency – Judge is dirt cheap. He's on making $535,000 this year and won't be an unrestricted free agent until 2023 at age 31, according to Spotrac.com.
None of this means the Yankees won't pursue the 2015 MVP, but it might help head off a bidding war that drives his price tag off the charts. Judge could be the difference between wanting and needing Harper in the minds of Brian Cashman and company.
The Nationals will take any reality that could help keep the price of retaining Harper within their reach. Now, this doesn't help them if and when the Cubs or Dodgers come calling.