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Is Aaron Judge the Next Yankees Captain?


SAN DIEGO — When Derek Jeter retired, Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, said that the long and time-honored tradition of naming a Yankees captain must be retired with him.

That was before Aaron Judge debuted with the team and rose through the pinstriped ranks.

Now, because the Yankees close on a record-setting, nine-year, $360 million free-agent take care of Judge, a slugging outfielder, a part of his return could include him being named the sixteenth captain in club history.

The team owner Hal Steinbrenner suggested in November that naming Judge captain is something that the team “would consider” if he returned. In October, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Nestor Cortes each said that Judge must be named captain if he got here back. “Many of the guys in there agree with me,” Cortes told reporters.

“I’ve never been the one which’s made the choice to make a captain,” Cashman said Wednesday before his departure from baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego. “That call doesn’t sit on the manager’s desk. It doesn’t sit at the overall manager’s desk. It at all times sits on the owner’s desk.”

Cashman said he only declared post-Jeter that there was no more need for a Yankees captain because Jeter, a shortstop inducted into the Hall of Fame last 12 months, set the bar so high and did it in addition to anyone ever could.

“I felt it was appropriate to state that I’m undecided if we ever need one again,” Cashman said. “But that doesn’t mean if another person is worthy that emerges and, clearly in Aaron Judge’s case, he’s spectacular.”

He added, “Similar to once we retire numbers, that comes from ownership.” And if Steinbrenner desires to honor Judge, Cashman said, “I support that call 110 percent.”

Jeter was named because the Yankees’ fifteenth captain by George Steinbrenner in June 2003.

“He represents all that is nice about a frontrunner,” Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, said then. “I’m an awesome believer in history, and I have a look at all the opposite leaders down through Yankee history, and Jeter is correct there with them.”

Jeter was the primary Yankees captain since Don Mattingly, who retired after the 1995 season. The lineage of Yankees captains stretches back to Babe Ruth and includes Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson. Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry were also captains within the Eighties.

Judge, 30, has emerged as a clear team leader over his seven seasons within the majors and earned the admiration of teammates last summer for his leadership and energy as he set the American League single-season home run record at 62 and tied for the major-league lead with 131 R.B.I. It was a profession 12 months by which he also led the majors in runs scored (133), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.686) and total bases (391).

“I acknowledge that Aaron Judge has been a frontrunner of this franchise in every way, shape and form,” Cashman said.

Manager Aaron Boone said “we’ll speak about all that stuff” when asked Wednesday in regards to the idea of Judge formally being named captain.

“He’s a tremendous player, a tremendous individual that actually has the respect of everyone in that room,” Boone said. “Guys look to him, look as much as him. So when you could have a player of that caliber but that is also as beloved and as necessary as he’s on a every day basis, especially on the intangible stuff, you’d best hang onto that.”

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