SAN DIEGO — Aaron Judge agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a landmark nine-year, $360 million contract early Wednesday morning, after a surprise entrant to the free agency slugger sweepstakes. Only after a last minute push. San Diego Padres.
Physical’s pending judge contract gave him the highest average annual value of a position player in major league history, smashing Mike Trout’s previous mark of $35.5 million by nearly $5 million. The deal is two years longer, $146.5 million more than the seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer Judge rejected from the Yankees at the end of spring training.
Judge, who turns 31 on April 26, has skyrocketed in value by hitting 62 home runs, breaking the American League single-season record, and compiling the all-time walks record in baseball history. He will now be with the Yankees for the rest of his 39-year-old season. As part of his deal, he is expected to become the team’s captain and will likely retire wearing the only uniform he has ever known.
The Giants backed Judge hard, and at one point Tuesday seemed to be building momentum toward signing him. Expect to get one of three shortstops: Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson.
The Padres struck out Trea Turner on Monday, but as is often the case under general manager AJ Preller, they weren’t ready to stop swinging.Club officials met Aaron Judge face-to-face at Petco Park in San Diego on Tuesday night, four sources briefed on the matter said. athleticHowever, it is believed that they never got the chance to make a formal bid.
A roundtable discussion with the judges showed that Preller and owner Peter Seidler are seriously considering pivoting on all pivots. The Padres offered Shortstop $342 million in guarantees over at least 11 years before Turner agreed to a $300 million deal with the Phillies, according to people familiar with the negotiations. So, industry sources say Preller can embark on a more serious pursuit of Bogaerts, who says he’s interested.
But Judge suited the Padres better than Bogaerts or Turner. Signing him would make San Diego arguably the most star-studded outfielder in baseball, with America’s league’s home run king and Juan his Soto patrolling the corner. Also, Fernando Tatis, Jr. could have stayed in the infield after returning from a performance-enhancing drug suspension on April 20, alongside Jake Cronenworth and Ha-sung Kim.
The Padres will be the first major league team to have $300 million players in Judge, Tatis and Manny Machado. Instead, that distinction was given to the Yankees, with Gerrit Cole on his nine-year, $324 million contract and Giancarlo Stanton on his 13-year, $325 million deal from the Marlins.
With Judge returning, the Yankees intend to accelerate their pursuit of other free agents. I’m in The team has already re-signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo and has reached an agreement with reliever Tommy Carnley.
—athleticAndy McCullough of contributed to this story
(Photo: Carmen Mandert/Getty Images)