What if the Red Sox could replace the offensive production of several players, solve their outfield problem and hamstring their biggest rival in the American League East by making a single signing this offseason?

Welcome to the Aaron Judge conversation.

Watching Judge’s presence take over both games at Fenway Park this week was a reminder that the Red Sox don’t have a player quite like that – and haven’t since David Ortiz retired.

Even when J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts have been at their best, they haven’t hit like this.

Judge pummeled home runs to left and to right, then drew a key walk that led to an extra-innings win for the Yankees on Tuesday. Wednesday, he was held to a single and a walk, though the single led to a three-run fifth and another Yankees win.

It was the Judge Show for two days, and it was entertainment at its best.


“I don’t know about superhuman,” Manager Alex Cora said Tuesday. “In 2000, I saw a superhero (Barry Bonds) in San Francisco. But (Judge) changed that game, not with the homers, but with a walk.”

Because he’s good at every facet of the game, Judge fits on any team, but he fits particularly well on the Red Sox – and at Fenway Park. His pending free agency is too big to ignore the possibility, however faint, that John Henry and Co. would shell out a historic contract to bring Judge to Boston.

It would be a Ruthian acquisition, and while most in the industry believe that the Yankees will sign a blank check to ensure Judge never steps foot outside the Bronx, it’s worth considering for a moment that any team will be able to talk to Judge this winter.

Don’t forget what happened in New York on Opening Day, when Judge turned down the Yankees’ final contract offer. General Manager Brian Cashman broke a longstanding tradition of not openly discussion numbers of a failed contract negotiation by telling the world exactly what the Yankees offered: seven years, $213.5 million.

An average salary of $30.5 million is juicy, but not Judge-worthy.

“Obviously, our intent is to have Aaron Judge stay as a New York Yankee as we move forward, and I know that is his intent as well, which is a good thing,” Cashman said in the Bronx on April 8. “We’re going to be entering those efforts in a new arena, which would be at the end of the season when free agency starts, and maybe that will determine what the real market value would be, because we certainly couldn’t agree at this stage on a contract extension.”


Whichever team signs Judge will have to break the bank now that he’s on pace to topple Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs, which some see as the real MLB record given that the only players ahead of Maris – Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – have all either admitted to steroid use or have been connected to it.

Behind Judge, the Yankees are on their way to just their second division title in the last 10 years after winning 12 of the previous 15.

Where would the Yankees be without Judge? There are several way to look at that, the easiest being with the wins above replacement stat.

Judge has been worth 9.7 WAR, which means if you substitute him with a replacement-level outfielder – let’s call that outfielder Tommy Pham, who has been just above replacement-level this year – the Yankees would be in danger of missing the playoffs rather than leading the AL East.

A difference of 10 wins is monumental. Instead of being 87-56, the Yankees would be 77-66, just 11/2 games ahead of the Orioles for the third wild-card spot.

With 10 more wins, the Red Sox would be in the wild-card hunt at 79-64, instead of below .500.


It’s not that simple, of course, but it’s fun to play with. If you don’t count the short season in 2020, Judge has averaged 6.8 WAR per season. There simply aren’t many players like him, and it’s going to cost a world of money to sign him.

The Red Sox have that kind of money coming off the books this winter. They have just about $60 million committed to players next year. Omitting the pandemic-shortened year, the Sox have an average Opening Day payroll of $214 million over the last five years.

Suffice to say, they have money to spend.

They could sign Xander Bogaerts and Judge at $30 million and $40 million per year and still have money to upgrade their pitching staff.

That is, if they truly intend to compete next year.

It’s hard to see Henry, Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox front office deciding to spend $35-40 million a year on any one player through his late 30s, even a player as good as Judge, even when the Sox could steal him from their rivals and completely shift the tide in the A.L. East, and even when Judge would be the perfect player to fill several giant holes on this roster.

Judge could take over in center field or right field and be an impact superstar who reshapes the lineup for a decade.

It’s been 20 years since former Red Sox president Larry Lucchino called the Yankees the Evil Empire for outbidding the Sox on international free agent Jose Contreras.

Just imagine a world in which the Sox outbid the Yankees for Judge just a few months removed from Judge setting the AL home run record.

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