Yankees re-sign Judge on a 9-year deal

December 20th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- All Rise! is keeping his Yankees pinstripes, the Judge’s Chambers will remain open for business and the captaincy could be on deck.

The Yankees announced that the club had re-signed the 2022 AL MVP to a nine-year deal on Tuesday. The club did not confirmed the terms of the contract, but a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand it is worth $360 million.

That number makes it the largest contract awarded to a free agent in Major League history, surpassing Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies in 2019. The Yankees reportedly beat out bids from both San Francisco and San Diego to bring back the superstar slugger.

A bleary-eyed Brian Cashman said during the Winter Meetings that he had not slept the night before the deal came together, having spent long hours communicating with Judge and agent Page Odle. Ultimately, the decision to match an offer from the Giants was made by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who called Judge directly and asked, “Do you want to be a Yankee?”

From the first day after the Yankees’ postseason exit, Steinbrenner prioritized retaining Judge, meeting with the slugger face to face on at least one occasion in Tampa, Fla., where he told him that he and his family hoped Judge remained “a Yankee for life.” Steinbrenner has also said naming Judge as the Yankees’ first captain since Derek Jeter (2003-14) will be on the table.

“Clearly, in Aaron Judge’s case, he is spectacular,” Cashman said. “Ultimately, if that’s something the Steinbrenner family wants to discuss, that will be coming from their chair, just like when we retire numbers. Any time that’s a decision they want to make, I support that decision 110 percent.”

The Yankees’ confidence in retaining their biggest star could not have been helped by a TIME article published on Dec. 6. In it, Judge commented on his displeasure with the April 8 news conference that saw Cashman volunteer Judge’s decision to turn down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension days prior.

“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 negotiation tactic. Put pressure on me. Turn the fans against me, turn the media on me. That part of it I didn’t like.”

Cashman said that the quote caught him off guard, but manager Aaron Boone noted that Judge discussed the topic in a closed-door meeting held in the manager’s office the night of the Yankees’ season-ending AL Championship Series loss to the Astros.

“I knew that he was a little disappointed about that,” Boone said. “We talked at length that night. I don’t think it was intended to be a tactic or anything like that. We knew it was going to be constantly speculated on and out there. We kind of wanted to run to the situation. I don’t think it’s a factor in anything going on.”

There was some panic during the Winter Meetings, when an erroneous report suggested that Judge seemed to be ready to choose the Giants. Boone had just exited the shower and, half-dressed, called Cashman to ask what had happened. When Cashman replied, “Nothing,” Boone exhaled and hurried to the Yankees’ suite.

“I feel like he certainly belongs in pinstripes,” Boone said. “A guy of his stature and his greatness, hopefully he spends his entire career [in New York], goes into Monument Park and into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. That would be the hope.”

Judge exceeded all expectations after turning down the extension; it was, as Cashman called it, “the all-time best bet.” Judge responded with a season for the ages, batting .311/.425/.686 in 157 games while leading the Majors in homers (62), runs (133), RBIs (131), slugging percentage, on-base percentage, OPS+ (211) and total bases (391).

“He’s an amazing player and an amazing person that certainly has the respect of everyone in that room,” Boone said. “Guys look to him, look up to him. When you have a player of that caliber that is as beloved and important as he is on a daily basis, you want to do your best to hang on to that.”