Aaron Judge is cashing in on a bet he made on himself last spring.
Judge, the superstar outfielder who spent his entire career with the Yankees, turned down a massive contract extension before the start of the 2022 season, set an American League single-season record with 62 home runs, won the league’s Most Valuable Player award and on Wednesday was awarded a nine-year, $360 million contract, the largest deal ever signed by a free agent.
The contract, first reported by the MLB Network, is under review, but the details have been confirmed by a person familiar with the negotiations who has not been authorized to discuss them publicly.
The Yankees’ original offer before the 2022 season was for seven years and $213.5 million, so Judge’s bet paid off with two additional years and $146.5 million.
Judge’s new contract is second only to renewals signed by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels (12 years, $426.5 million) and Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers (12 years, $365 million). His average annual cost of $40 million would be the highest ever paid to a position player, second only to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, Mets co-aces, who both average $43.3 million per season.
At 30-year-old Judge, the Yankees retained a first-round pick in 2013 and turned him into a hugely popular star. He became AL Rookie of the Year with 52 home runs in 2017, was named to a four-team All-Star team, and rose to prominence in 2022 by breaking Roger Maris’ vaunted home run record, a record given extra weight because every more was due to performance-enhancing drugs, and based on the Baseball Reference formula, he had a major league-leading 10.6 wins over substitutions.
Judge’s pursuit of Maris has fascinated much of the baseball world, with television networks crashing into other events to show him at-bat, and the Maris family openly cheering for him to the point where Roger Maris Jr. traveled to games to try to see how it will happen. .
But Judge’s 2022 wasn’t just defined by his home runs. He also hit a career-high .311 – a challenge for the Triple Crown until the final days of the season – led the majors in scoring (133) and tied the Mets’ Pete Alonso for the major leagues in runs scored (131). He also led the big players in on-base percentage (.425), miss percentage (.686), and total bases (391).
He did it all by stealing 16 bases and playing above-average defense in both right field (54 starts) and center field (74 starts).
There was speculation that Judge might want to leave the Yankees to join the San Francisco Giants, a team he’s been rooting for since childhood, but instead he decided to commit himself to the Yankees in the season ahead of him. at the age of 39.
Tyler Kepner made a report.