The New York Yankees are re-signing reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. It’s a nine-year, $360MM contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The agreement is still pending the completion of a physical.
It’s the largest free-agent contract in MLB history, topping Bryce Harper’s previous $330MM record. The $40MM average annual value on the contract establishes a new record among position players and trails only the matching $43.33MM AAVs of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander — both of whom are on shorter-term deals — for the largest in MLB history. Judge is represented by Page Odle of PSI Sports Management.
Judge’s decision to remain in New York puts an end to a weeks-long saga that saw him primarily fixated on the Yankees and Giants, his two most serious suitors from the moment he rejected a qualifying offer issued by the Yankees. The Giants were reported to have made a similar offer yesterday, and Morosi tweets that Judge turned down higher offers after ultimately deciding he preferred to remain a Yankee. Judge will now likely spend his entire career in Yankee pinstripes, as the new contract will run through his age-39 season.
Judge famously bet on himself heading into the 2022 season, turning down a seven-year, $213.5MM extension offer from the Yankees in Spring Training. General manager Brian Cashman took the virtually unprecedented step of announcing the terms of the Yankees’ final offer to the public, leaving no doubt as to the numbers that were offered. Judge’s gamble drew some scrutiny, but in the end, he secured himself an additional two years and a jaw-dropping $146.5MM — a 68.6% increase over the originally proposed guarantee.
It’s a massive win for Judge — on that was earned on the heels of a season the likes of which baseball fans have not seen since Barry Bonds dominated during the steroid era. Judge led the Majors in home runs, runs scored, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases, finishing out the year with a comical .311/.425/.686 batting line and a new American League record of 62 home runs.
It’s nearly impossible to draw up a better platform season for a free agent — and not simply because Judge captivated baseball fans everywhere while chasing down Roger Maris’ longstanding record in the final weeks of the season. Judge thrived in a national spotlight with the game’s most high-profile team but also almost singlehandedly prevented a second-half collapse. Judge mashed at a .349/.502/.784 clip following the All-Star break, belting 29 home runs and reaching base in more than half of his 307 plate appearances. The rest of the lineup, meanwhile, looked utterly lifeless in the season’s final months; non-Judge Yankees hitters combined for a disastrous .223/.292/.360 slash after the All-Star break.
Judge’s heroics both pushed the Yankees to a division crown in the AL East (and secured them a first-round bye in the newly expanded playoff format) and also painted a gruesome picture for Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner of just what a Judge-less Yankee team might look like moving forward. Judge finally went cold with a 1-for-16 slump in a brutal ALCS that saw the team score just nine total runs while being swept by the eventual-champion Astros, but it’s unlikely the Yankees would’ve even reached that point had Judge not put the team on his back in such dramatic fashion
More to come.
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