When the New York Yankees and Aaron Judge failed to reach a contract extension before Opening Day, general manager Brian Cashman indicated that the two sides wouldn’t negotiate again until after the 2022 season. With Judge and the Yankees both off to a hot start, that might no longer be the case.

Cashman indicated Wednesday that contract talks could resume during the season, though the Yankees won’t discuss it in the press.

"We're not going to talk about it now going forward. Whether that means we're not going to talk, I'm not saying that, but we're not going to talk about it [publicly],” Cashman said, via MLB.com’s Byan Hoch. “But he's been great. But that's no surprise, because he is great."

Cashman’s comments came less than 24 hours after Judge hit his first career walk-off home run, giving the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. New York improved its record to an MLB-best 21-8. The Yankees have a four-game lead atop the AL East.

Judge has been as responsible as any Yankee for the team’s strong start. In the final year of his contract, Judge leads the majors with 10 home runs through the first 29 games. Judge is hitting .290/.356./.626 for a .982 OPS, which ranks fifth among all players.

Judge bet on himself, turning down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension. If the 30-year-old keeps up his MVP-caliber play for the remainder of the season, he could receive much more lucrative offers in free agency.

The Yankees don’t want to lose Judge in the offseason. Judge is the team's best and most popular player. Cashman and the Yankees might be forced to negotiate with Judge this summer in order to prevent another team from luring him away this winter.

Few players have been more productive than Judge over the last five years. With two top-four MVP finishes and a career .942 OPS, Judge is arguably worth more than the $30.5 million per year the Yankees offered him.

Staying on the field has been Judge’s biggest issue. In three of the last four seasons, Judge has been sidelined for more than 30% of the Yankees’ games. 

Judge has played 28 of the Yankees’ first 29 games in 2022.

Judge's 2022 salary is still undetermined. In his final year of arbitration, Judge will make between $17 million and $21 million.

Aaron Judge New York Yankees Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees lines out to right field against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 08, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images