Major League Baseball's free agent frenzy has begun and while small deals have been made here and there, any major movement will wait until the big domino falls. That move, of course, will be where Aaron Judge decides to sign. Don't expect any big moves until Judge's contract sets the market.
Judge is coming off an incredible season. He set the American League record for home runs with 62, hit .311 and led all of baseball in RBIs (131), on-base percentage (.425), slugging (.686), OPS (1.111) and fWAR (11.4). The 30-year-old four-time All-Star is about to add an AL MVP to his resume and is poised to sign a monster contract.
The New York Yankees want to re-sign Judge. We all know that. But they also spent the better part of the last two seasons disrespecting him with lowball offers. He threw it back in their faces by having the greatest contract year in sports history. Judge is from the West Coast and could decide he's had enough of New York. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers will almost certainly get involved quickly. The bidding war should see Judge clearing the $300 million mark easily.
If the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers and other mystery teams miss out on Judge, they'll turn their attention to the next guys on the market. But they'll have to wait for his decision to know where to turn. Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts represent the best shortstop free agent class baseball has ever seen. All four should net big contracts, but none will want to sign until Judge sets the upper end of the market.
Once Judge does make a deal, the next tier of outfielders will likely come off the board quickly. Mitch Haniger, Brandon Nimmo and Andrew Benintendi should all benefit from Judge's inflated contract. Meanwhile, guys like Willson Contreras, Josh Bell, Jose Abreu and J.D. Martinez are likely to also go fast once things get started.
So when can we expect things to really kick into gear? It all depends on what Judge decides to do. He could take his time and do a tour of a few cities, or he could just decide to ink the best deal that comes in over the next week or so. We really have no idea how this will unfold. But when it does, MLB's offseason will finally get exciting.