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Yankees’ Cashman plans to push ahead on Aaron Judge talks

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees

Oct 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros during game three of the ALCS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman is working on a handshake agreement following his contract’s expiration and will push ahead with talks aimed at re-signing Aaron Judge.

“We’d love to be able to bring Aaron Judge back and have him being able to maintain being a member of this franchise and the path he’s currently on is Hall of Fame-like,” Cashman said at the Yankees’ 13th annual news conference to discuss the path ahead from a season that fell short. “Nothing better than to have him continue to man right field for us and impact us on and off the field the way he has thus far.”

Cashman, the general manager since 1998, and Aaron Boone, the manager since the 2018 season, spoke 12 days after the Houston Astros completed a four-game AL Championship Series sweep of New York. While Houston is one win from its second World Series title in six seasons, the Yankees haven’t reached the Series since winning in 2009 - their longest gap since 1978 to 1996.

Three days after the Yankees were eliminated, owner Hal Steinbrenner told The Associated Press he intended to keep Boone, who agreed in October 2021 to a three-year contract.

“As far as the job security, I’ve never worried about that - ever,” Boone said. “And the reality is last year I signed an extension and so my focus is on putting my steps forward to what’s next.”

Cashman’s five-year contract expired Monday and Steinbrenner is expected to give him a new deal.

“I’d like to stay, but we have had not had any further discussion on that,” said Cashman, who replaced Bob Watson in 1998. “We’re dealing with a lot of other employment stuff with other people, but all in due time. So, we’ll see how that plays out but obviously I’d love to stay, and he’s expressed interest in having me stay.”

Judge is eligible to become a free agent on the day after the World Series and the outfielder can negotiate contract terms with all teams starting with the sixth day after the Series ends.

Ahead of opening day, Judge rejected a contract that would have paid him $213.5 million from 2023-29. He set an AL record with 62 homers, finished tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and was second in the AL with a .311 batting average.

“He’s a fan favorite,” Cashman said. “He interacts with our fans extremely well. He’s respected within that clubhouse, goes about his business as good as you possibly can and is an elite performer and one of the game’s best, if not the best player.”

Judge had a $19 million salary this year and the 30-year-old is likely to command a long-term contract worth over $300 million.

“We’ll have certainty the conversations as promised and see where they take us, but he’s put himself in a great position to have a lot of choices,” Cashman said.

Judge has helped drive Yankees revenue, drawing full houses for September weeknight games that usually lag midsummer attendance.

“As George Steinbrenner said, he puts fannies in the seats,” Cashman said. “People want to go watch that guy play, and you want to put great teams on the field that they want to come here to watch compete and win. Certain individual players transcend the team and everything stops when they’re at the bat or they have the ball in their hand. He’s one of those types of talents.”

Boone’s pitching and outfield decisions were questioned during the Division Series against Cleveland and he was criticized by some for pulling Gerrit Cole with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS and for letting an injured Nestor Cortes remain in Game 4.

“I think Aaron did a great job,” Cashman said. “I think he’s got a great demeanor, a great rapport with his players.”

Cashman also hopes to retain Matt Blake, who finished his third season as pitching coach.

New York is interested in keeping Anthony Rizzo, who can give up a $16 million salary for next season an become a free agent. New York intends to exercise right-hander Luis Severino’s $15 million team option.

Other free agents are pitcher Jameson Taillon; outfielder Andrew Benintendi; utility players Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez; and relievers Chad Green, Miguel Castro, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman.

Benintendi missed the postseason with broken right wrist while DJ LeMahieu was unavailable for the postseason due to a foot injury. New York also went through the postseason without injured relievers Michael King (fractured elbow), Ron Marinaccio (shin), Green (Tommy John surgery), Scott Effross (Tommy John surgery) and Britton (setback following Tommy John surgery).