TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge, the 2017 Home Run Derby champion, said the new $1 million winner’s prize isn’t going to make him participate in future events unless the All-Star Game comes to Yankee Stadium.
"No,” Judge said on Friday. “The only thing that will make me want to participate would be if the All-Star Game would ever be in New York City again."
The All-Star Game hasn’t made it to the new Yankee Stadium yet. It was held in the final season of the previous Yankee Stadium in 2008.
The $1 million winner’s prize was announced on Thursday as part of a wide-ranging agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association. That’s a major bump from last year’s winner’s prize of $150,000.
"It’ll entice a couple people,” Judge said. “It’s actually double my salary, so it would be pretty enticing. But, nah, it really doesn’t draw me in.”
Judge will make $684,300 this season. He said there’s another thing that could make him consider rejoining the Derby, and it’s not money.
"Maybe if the All-Star break was a week long and I actually had a break, I would be more enticed to do it,” he said. “But the money doesn’t change it."
Some have said winning the Derby in 2017 contributed to Judge’s slump in the second half of that season because he changed his swing. Judge said that was not the case.
"It affected me because I hurt my shoulder,” he said. “But my swing-wise, no. I was just taking BP. That was probably the worst thing having to hear every single day, people saying, ‘Did it affect you?’ Nah, it was a day of BP. It doesn’t really affect me. If I didn’t get hurt, it would have been a different story."
Judge had arthroscopic surgery after the 2017 season on his left shoulder that “involved a loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up,” according to a Yankees statement at the time.
The All-Star Game will be held at Cleveland’s Progressive Field this season and at Dodger Stadium in 2020.
Judge hit a three-run homer over the centerfield fence on an 0-and-2 pitch from righthander Adam Lau and also lined a double in the Yankees' 14-1 victory over the Red Sox on Friday. Judge has gone 9-for-28 (.321) with five home runs, four doubles and 11 RBIs in spring training.