Aaron Judge got it right. He said no to the Yankees' hometown-discount offer last winter, hit 62 home runs, and more or less got to name his price. The Giants, thirsty for the local boy, offered him a whopper of an offer, and the Yankees, with little choice, matched it. And so Judge remains in New York, where he seemingly never really wanted to leave, but with two extra years and $147 million more than he would've gotten a year ago. It is one of the all-time great heat checks.
Judge has reached agreement with the Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million extension. It's the largest AAV for a hitter in baseball history, and will run through his age-39 season, but those are absolutely not my problems, nor anyone's reading this. And the Yankees desperately need the reigning AL MVP: they are offensively bereft and boring without him; he is the highly marketable face of a franchise without much of an identity these days; simply put, they needed Judge more than Judge needed them. The 2022 season began "with the Yankees thinking he would never leave," the Post's Joel Sherman writes, "and whether he actually was willing to do so or not, Judge made the Yankees believe he would."
Judge had three main suitors to choose from: The Padres were apparently involved to the very end, and the Giants' offer of around $360 million was publicly known, and on Tuesday afternoon, San Francisco people apparently believed—and were telling anyone who'd listen at baseball's Winter Meetings—that they had this thing in the bag. That premature jocularity, combined with an impish autocorrect, led to some brief, wild moments online yesterday:
"I heard he was going to the Giants from a couple of people, so I thought it was good enough," Heyman said. "Since then, the Giants have said they haven't heard, the Yankees have said they haven't heard. So I think they would know before me if there's anything definitive. At this point, the tea leaves look a lot more positive than they did before for the Giants. At this point, I would not report that, obviously, because I retracted it."
Embarrassing—and very, very funny—but that fits with the timeline that's emerging this morning. The Giants did, apparently, have the top offer at the time, and Judge was in the air on his way to San Diego to make his final decision. But, as Jeff Passan reports, the Yankees bumped up their offer at the last minute, and Judge took it. As he did all MVP-season-long, he forced the Yankees to blink.
So now the big question of the offseason is answered and everyone can stand down, and the hot stove can fire up to its highest setting, and everyone can start making deals. And Aaron Judge will be a Yankee for life, under something closer to his own terms.