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Yankees’ Judge would gladly welcome Harper

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Yankees’ Judge would gladly welcome Harper
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Will Harper, Machado be unsigned when spring training starts? (1:18)

Buster Olney reports the latest on baseball’s free agency market, including the status of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. (1:18)

3:15 PM ET

  • Coley HarveyESPN Staff Writer

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    • Previously covered Florida State for Orlando Sentinel and Georgia Tech for Macon Telegraph
    • Northwestern University graduate

As Bryce Harper‘s free agency trudges along, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was asked about what it might take to bring the left-handed hitter — who plays the same position as Judge — to the Bronx.

Blitzed by TMZ Sports in a brief red-carpet interview this week, Judge said any time a team can add a player of Harper’s caliber, it “is going to make them better.” Harper, 26, is a six-time All-Star and former National League MVP for the Washington Nationals.

Judge was asked who would move from right to center field in the event New York was able to add Harper to an already-crowded outfield.

“He’s got more speed than me, man,” Judge said, smiling. “Wherever he wants to play. We’ll make it work.”

With respect to the interviewer’s question, neither player would likely move to center. Aaron Hicks, who is coming off the best year of his career following a 27-homer, 79-RBI campaign, is expected to remain the Yankees’ starter at the position in 2019. Brett Gardner, 35, enters spring training as the incumbent in left field, with Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury returning from injuries to compete for playing time there.

Giancarlo Stanton also factors into the Yankees’ outfield plans. The team’s primary designated hitter, he also spent 37 games playing right field last season. Many of those chances came after Judge suffered a wrist injury that sidelined him about two months.

The Yankees, fresh off an American League Division Series loss to the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox, have been rumored at times this offseason to be trying to pursue either Harper or Manny Machado. Although Yankees general manager Brian Cashman refuted such rumored interest in Harper during the Winter Meetings in December, he and other team officials did meet with Machado late that month.

The odds at this late offseason date are not high that either player ends up with the Yankees.

As for Judge’s message through TMZ to Harper, Machado and other remaining free agents?

“I got nothing,” Judge said. “Make the right choice. Wherever they want to go. Make it the right choice for your family.”

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