SAN DIEGO – Everyone get up! Aaron Judge retains his Yankees pinstripes, the Judge’s rooms will remain open and the Captaincy could be on deck.
The 2022 American League Most Valuable Player award winner has agreed to a nine-year, $360 million contract with the Yankees, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand on Wednesday. The contract, which is pending physical examination, has not been confirmed by the club.
It would be the biggest contract awarded to a free agent in Major League history, topping Bryce Harper’s 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies in 2019. Judge flew to San Diego Tuesday to decide, selecting the Yankees from competitive bids from the Giants and the Padres, who were a surprise late entry into the auction.
A cloudy-eyed Brian Cashman said Wednesday morning he had not slept yet, having spent the previous hours communicating with the judge and Constable Page Odle. Ultimately, the decision to match San Francisco’s offer was made by general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who called Judge directly and asked, “Do you want to be a Yankee?”
“Hal Steinbrenner would be the Mariano Rivera of these negotiations,” Cashman said. “I can’t officially say it’s happened yet, but hopefully we’re in a good place.”
From day one after the Yankees exited the playoffs, Steinbrenner prioritized retaining Judge, meeting the slugger face-to-face on at least one occasion in Tampa, Fla., where he told her that he and his family hoped that Judge would remain “a Yankee for life.” Steinbrenner also said Judge’s appointment as the Yankees’ first captain since Derek Jeter (2003-14) would be on the table.
“Obviously in Aaron Judge’s case, he’s spectacular,” Cashman said. “At the end of the day, if this is something the Steinbrenner family wants to discuss, it will come from their chair, just like when we pull out the numbers. Whenever it’s a decision they want to make, I support that decision 110%. »
The Yankees’ confidence in retaining their biggest star could not have been helped by a TIME article published Tuesday. In it, the judge commented on his dissatisfaction with the April 8 press conference that saw pro bono Judge Cashman’s decision to deny a seven-year, $213.5 million extension days earlier.
“We kind of said, ‘Hey, let’s keep this between us,'” Judge told the magazine. “I was a little upset that the numbers came out. I understand it’s a bargaining tactic. Put the pressure on me. Turn the fans against me, turn the media against me. That part I don’t have loved.
Cashman said the quote caught him off guard, but manager Aaron Boone noted that Judge discussed the subject during a closed meeting held in the manager’s office the night of the Yankees’ AL Championship loss. series against the Astros.
“I knew he was a little bummed about it,” Boone said. “We talked for a long time that evening. I don’t think it was meant to be a tactic or anything like that. We knew it was going to be constantly speculated on and there. We kind of wanted to run to the situation. I don’t think that’s a factor in anything that’s going on.
There was some panic in the halls of the Grand Hyatt around noon Tuesday, when an erroneous report suggested Judge looked set to pick the Giants. Boone had just gotten out of the shower and, half-dressed, called Cashman to ask what had happened. When Cashman replied, “Nothing,” Boone exhaled and rushed to the Yankees suite.
“I feel like he definitely belongs in the stripes,” Boone said. “A guy of his stature and greatness, I hope he spends his whole career [in New York], enters Monument Park and the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. It would be hope.
The judge exceeded all expectations after denying the extension; it was, as Cashman called it, “the best bet ever”. Judge responded with a season for the ages, batting .311/.425/.686 in 157 games while leading the Majors in home runs (62), runs (133), RBIs (131), slugging percentage, percentage base, OPS+ (211), and total bases (391).
“He’s an incredible player and an incredible person who certainly has the respect of everyone in this room,” Boone said. “Guys watch it, watch it. When you have a player of this caliber who is as loved and important as he is on a daily basis, you want to do your best to hang on to him.
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