TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge knew something was up when he got a call from Brian Cashman on Wednesday night.
Judge said Cashman reached out to remind him that Major League Baseball frowns on players recruiting other players to join their teams. The call was prompted by Judge’s comment to reporters Wednesday that he told Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, “You’d look good in pinstripes.’’
Machado, one of baseball’s top young players, will be a free agent after the season. Unlike club officials, players are not bound by rules about tampering, but that doesn’t mean MLB likes it.
Judge smiled sheepishly Thursday and said, “Cashman called me briefly and spoke about it. Gave me a refresher that MLB’s sensitive to that kind of stuff. That’s about it.”
Judge said he made the comments to Machado on the field before their exhibition game in Sarasota. Judge said Machado laughed and did not respond.
It’s more common in other sports (such as the NBA) for players to talk openly about recruiting players from other teams to play with them.
“I don’t know about other guys, but it just came up in passing,” Judge said. “Now I know. Got a little refresher. Learn something new every day.”
Judge is one of baseball’s biggest stars, but that didn’t stop MLB from admonishing him in a statement released Wednesday night: “We have been in contact with the Yankees. They communicated to us that Mr. Judge’s off-the-cuff comments were not appropriate and not authorized by the club. They will speak to him to make sure that this does not happen again.”
Said Judge: “The convo with Cash was maybe 30 seconds. He said, ‘Hey, here’s a reminder that MLB’s sensitive to this. You can’t do this. Have a good night.’ And I said, ‘All right. See you tomorrow.’ ”
Before Thursday’s exhibition game at Steinbrenner Field, Cashman said he got a call Wednesday from Dan Halem, MLB’s deputy commissioner for baseball administration and chief legal officer. Clearly, MLB took the matter seriously.
“Dan Halem from Major League Baseball reached out to me and asked me to just politely talk to Aaron and remind him about the optics of that type of dialogue,” Cashman said. “So I did . . . I did what I was asked to do on behalf of Major League Baseball and I reached out to Aaron to make sure he got the full perspective — obviously clearly from Baltimore’s perspective as well. There’s certainly no intentions on creating any difficulties for anybody. I made sure Aaron understood the commissioner’s perspective on it. He does.”
Cashman said he doesn’t think this episode will affect Judge or make him reticent about speaking with the media. Considering the amount of attention he got last year during his AL Rookie of the Year season and continues to get, he’s about as accessible and polite as an athlete can be.
“I don’t have any worries with Aaron Judge,” Cashman said. “Aaron Judge brings his ‘A’ game every day. You can’t throw a perfect game every day, either . . . We’re covered so much and so extensively, it can’t be perfect.”
Machado was with the Orioles in Jupiter on Thursday to play the Cardinals. For the second straight day, he declined to talk to reporters.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter tried to make light of the situation, saying, “I’m just glad they didn’t catch Manny recruiting Judge.”
With Paul Ivice in Jupiter, Fla.