New York, your king is returning to his throne. He’s been more like MLB’s king after his record-breaking 2022. Aaron Judge’s bet on himself led to him having the single greatest regular season in MLB history and inking a 9-year $360 million deal to stay a Yankee.
The deal is the third-highest total value for a contract in Major League history and will give Judge the “Captain C” on his jersey, making him the first Yankee to hold that title since Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter retired.
Judge became the face of Major League Baseball in 2022 after hitting an American League record 62 home runs and leading the Majors in nearly every offensive category: all this while he was shining in center field and batting leadoff, both of which he had never done.
If the Yankees had not reached deep into their pocketbooks to keep the superstar, the city might have been burned down.
His hometown team, the San Francisco, were one of three favorites to bring in the newly crowned home run champion. They pulled out all recruiting stops including a $360 million contract and the services of should be Hall of Famer Barry Bonds whose 762 are the most by a player in their career.
The San Diego Padres were the third team in pursuit of Judge. They have not been shy about making big moves over the past few seasons, giving huge deals to Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., while making a blockbuster trade last deadline when they acquired Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the Nationals.
They offered Judge $400… yes $400 million, but he ultimately turned it down to return to the Bronx.
When this year began, Judge made it clear he would not be handling any contract negotiations during the season.
The Yankees leaked their final offer shortly after Opening Day, which was only around $213 million. Rumors came out that Judge was not happy about that, but in the end he never swayed and stayed quiet throughout the process.
He never told anyone what his price was or what other options he would take if he left, he only showed up to the ballpark and put in work.
“Whatever he gets is going to be astronomical and he deserves it,” said teammate Anthony Rizzo, who is also returning to the Yankees in 2023.
“He bet on himself on the biggest stage, in the biggest market and did it with ease. He should be rewarded as the highest-paid player in the game. He is the gold standard.”
We will never forget the 2022 season Aaron Judge had or this off-season where he made one of the biggest decisions in MLB history, but now a second phase to his career begins. Championship expectations are always high in New York. Whether you are winning MVPs or going through a slump, those fans want results and will let players know about it.
Some have and will continue to fold under that pressure, but Judge welcomes it and will, for what appears to be the rest of his career. Now he is on a quest to not only bring a World Series to the Bronx for the first time since 2009, but to become a hands down member of the “GREATEST Yankees of All-Time” list.