One year after attempting to woo Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, Aaron Judge tried to recruit another one of baseball's most feared hitters, and Major League Baseball is not happy about it.
Judge told reporters in Sarasota, Florida, before Wednesday's spring training game between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles that he pitched O's shortstop Manny Machado on coming to the Bronx. The All-Star infielder will be a free agent next offseason.
"Adding him to our lineup that we already got would be something special," Judge told reporters. "I told him he'd look good in pinstripes."
Judge's remarks did not go unnoticed by MLB, as the league issued a statement in regard to potential tampering.
"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," the league said in its statement. "They will speak to him to make sure that this does not happen again."
Judge said Thursday that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called him Wednesday night to tell him that "MLB is sensitive to that kind of stuff." Judge said the message sank in quickly, and that the phone call lasted about 30 seconds.
"It was all new to me," Judge added. "Lesson learned."
Judge also downplayed his pitch and said he now knows those talks are off limits.
"It just kind of came up in passing," he said. "Now I know. You learn something new every day."
Judge said Wednesday that Machado laughed off the recruiting pitch and didn't really say anything in response.
"We talked a little bit, and I just asked him how his offseason was, how everything was going," Judge said. "I asked him how he liked short and said, 'You'd look pretty good in pinstripes, too.'"
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday he was aware of the warning by the commissioner's office, while adding: "I'm just glad they didn't catch Manny recruiting Judge."
Machado made the official move to shortstop this offseason after spending the bulk of his six-season career at third base. Although he has appeared in nearly 800 games, only 52 of them had been spent playing shortstop prior to this season. Machado has a .279 lifetime batting average with 138 career home runs. He has homer totals of 35, 37 and 33 in the past three seasons.
Due $16 million from the Orioles this season and possibly worth nearly double that amount on the open market next winter, Machado could be a costly addition for the Yankees. That potential addition also would have to take into account the Yankees' feelings about promising young infield prospects Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, Keith Law's No. 5-rated prospect in baseball.
Offensively, Machado would be a welcome addition to a lineup that already includes the big bats of Judge (52 home runs in 2017), Stanton (major-league-leading 59 homers in 2017), Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. New York's current shortstop, Gregorius, is eligible to be a free agent after the 2019 season.
Judge joked that he told Stanton at last year's All-Star Game in Miami he also would look good in pinstripes. In December, the Yankees traded with the Miami Marlins to land Stanton.
Although Judge would like to play with Machado, he's confident the shortstop will ultimately land next offseason wherever he is happiest -- even if that isn't New York.
"He's one heck of a player, and he's been doing it for quite a few years at the best level," Judge told reporters. "He's one of the best -- if not the best -- defensive third basemen in the game, and now he's probably going to be one of the best defensive shortstops. With what he brings on the offensive side of it, he's the complete package. He's going to be a happy man when it comes to free agency, and picking where he wants to go."