As Aaron Judge chases the American League home run record in New York, the king of the big fly has been watching -- and hoping -- from the other side of the country.
And while there’s a very, very, very slim chance the Yankees slugger could make a run at Barry Bonds’ single-season home-run record of 73 this year, the Giants legend would prefer to see Judge do so in a San Francisco uniform come 2023.
“Go for it,” Bonds told Sportico’s Barry M. Bloom this week in a telephone interview, speaking of Judge potentially reaching his single-season mark in the season’s final two weeks.
“The way he swings he might as well hit one a day and get past me. I don’t care. Why not?”
Judge has been compared to Bonds on several occasions this season, boasting a powerful swing that has blasted 60 home runs in 2022. It has been a contract year like no other for the 30-year-old outfielder, and his name certainly is at the top of many teams’ wish lists this offseason.
Understandably, many Giants fans -- and the front office -- are enticed by the idea of the Linden, Calif. native returning to his home state next season in free agency so that he can drop some of those bombs into McCovey Cove on a regular basis.
So is Bonds.
“I hope he signs here,” Bonds told Bloom. “Can it happen? I don’t know. It depends on what the Yankee payroll is. But we would love to have him, I’ll tell you that.
“We in the Bay Area -- he’s a Bay Area boy -- we hope they don’t sign him, and we can get him. I would. He’s that good.”
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been asked about Judge numerous times by reporters in the second half of the season, as San Francisco’s lineup failed to meet expectations and the team watched its playoff hopes eventually fall out of reach.
While the executive has remained coy without naming names, he has implied the Giants are in a good position to enter a bidding war this offseason and plan on being “aggressive.”
Should the team go after Judge, it’s going to be incredibly expensive. He turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension prior to the 2022 season that would have made him the highest annually paid position player in Yankees history.
But the Giants do have an advantage -- Judge grew up a Giants fan and has spoken highly of the organization throughout his seven-year MLB career. He recently defended Bonds’ single-season home-run record, saying 73 “is the record in my book.”
It’s evident the Home Run King appreciated the support, and he believes Judge has a shot at breaking that record at some point.
“It doesn’t matter what people say,” Bonds told Bloom. In MLB it says Barry Bonds. That’s all that matters, right? Anyone can have their own opinion, and I respect their opinion, but MLB says 762 is the record, 73 is the record. Unless MLB changed something they’re still there.
“So [Judge] is correct. That guy has a chance to break a lot of those records. For sure.”
With 218 career home runs to his name, 762 seems far away. But after the show Judge has put on in the Bronx this season, 73 in a single season doesn’t seem impossible for him.
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But Bonds wants to watch him do it at Oracle Park, if the price is right.
“He’s got a long way to go. He’s still at the beginning of his career,” Bonds told Bloom. “I pray Aaron never gets hurt and has a long career. Right now, he’s still young. But does his potential look great? Woo. Is he going to make a lot of money? Woo.
“Would I bet on him? Hell, yes. It’s going to be a very interesting negotiation. I just hope we win.”
You and the Bay both, Barry.
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