Pujols left the Cardinals, so Judge was able to leave the Yankees


PHILADELPHIA — Harrison Bader has only played alongside Aaron Judge for a few weeks, but he’d like to stay in the Yankees’ outfield with the AL home run king.

But Bader also spent the first half of that season with Albert Pujols in St. Louis, so he knows what happened when Pujols entered free agency in 2011 after 11 seasons with the Cardinals and signed with the Angels.

« Listen, if Albert Pujols… can [leave]anyone could [leave] » Bader said on Tuesday.

Judge is coming off a historic season in which he broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League record of hitting 62 home runs and is almost certain to win his first AL MVP award. When Pujols left St. Louis, he had an even more illustrious resume: He had won the National League MVP title three times and finished in the top five in voting in 10 different seasons.

Still, he left for a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels, and Pujols spent the next decade with them before being released in May 2021 and signing with the Dodgers. He returned to the Cardinals before this season, which turned out to be his last in the majors.

Aaron Judge and Harrison Bader
Getty Images

« It’s a deal, » said Bader, who was traded from the Cardinals to the Yankees in exchange for left-hander Jordan Montgomery at the August deadline. “I learned that very quickly this year. There is no hard feelings at all. It’s never personal. It’s about the game. Selfishly, I’d like to continue to be [Judge’s] teammate. He’s an incredible talent. »

The judge denied the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million opening day extension, betting on himself in his final officiating season before hitting the open market for the first time.

He responded with a season for the ages and is now ready to cash in, with the expectation of at least an eight-year contract worth over $300 million.

« [Judge] won everything that comes his way,” said Bader, who was at Citizens Bank Park, appearing on MLB Network ahead of the Phillies’ 7-0 Game 3 win over the Astros. “I wish him the absolute best wherever he ends up. It’s a decision he and his family will make. … I can’t wait to see how it goes.

The same goes for the rest of the baseball world.

The Yankees are still considered favorites to retain Judge, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, who came close to earning his first MVP in 2017, when he set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Following the loss in the 2021 wildcard game at Fenway Park, Judge said, “I want to be a Yankee for life. I want to wear the stripes for the rest of my career. »

But he raised some eyebrows by referring to the Yankees in the past after they were swept by the Astros in the ALCS.

« To have the chance to wear the stripes and play on the right court at Yankee Stadium is an incredible honor that I certainly did not take for granted at any time, » Judge said last month. “Very few people get the chance to do that…and perform in front of the fans in my six years here. It was a special moment. I’m just kicking myself for not bringing this championship home.

Manager Aaron Boone said what many fans thought: « I hope we see him for years to come with stripes. I don’t even want to think about the alternative right now. He means a lot to many of us in this room.


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