Yankees, Aaron Judge Agree To Record-Setting Deal - Gatous News

Yankees, Aaron Judge Agree To Record-Setting Deal

The New York Yankees are re-signing reigning American League MVP Aaron Judgereports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. It’s a nine-year, $360MM contract, tweet Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The agreement is still pending the completion of a physical.

It’s the largest free-agent contract in MLB history, topping Bryce Harper‘s previous $330MM record. The $40MM average annual value on the contract establishes a new record among position players and trails only the matching $43.33MM AAVs of Max Scherzer other Justin Verander — both of whom are on shorter-term deals — for the largest in MLB history. Judge is represented by Page Odle of PSI Sports Management.

Judge’s decision to remain in New York puts an end to a weeks-long saga that saw him primarily fixed on the Yankees and Giants, his two most serious suitors from the moment he rejected a qualifying offer issued by the Yankees. The Giants were reported to have made a similar offer yesterday, and Morosi tweet that judge turned down higher offers after ultimately deciding he preferred to remain a Yankee. Judge will now likely spend his entire career in Yankee pinstripes, as the new contract will run through his age-39 season.

Judge famously bet on himself heading into the 2022 season, turning down a seven-year, $213.5MM extension offer from the Yankees in Spring Training. General manager Brian Cashman took the virtually unprecedented step of announcing the terms of the Yankees’ final offer to the public. While that unorthodox tactic upset Judge — as the outfielder himself has since publicly stated — it also leaves no doubt as to the numbers that were offered and thus gives a clear window into just how much the 2022 MVP gained in betting on himself. Judge’s gamble drew some scrutiny, but in the end, he secured himself an additional two years and a jaw-dropping $146.5MM — a 68.6% increase over the originally proposed guarantee.

It’s a massive win for Judge — one that was earned on the heels of a season the likes of which baseball fans have not seen since Barry Bonds dominated during the steroid era. Judge led the Majors in home runs, runs scored, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases, finishing out the year with a comical .311/.425/.686 batting line and a new American League record of 62 home runs.

It’s nearly impossible to draw up a better platform season for a free agent. Judge not only captivated baseball fans but caught the attention of sports fans everywhere while chasing down Roger Maris’ longstanding record, evidenced by being named Time Magazine’s Athlete of the Year. Judge thrived in a national spotlight with the game’s most high-profile team but also almost singlehandedly prevented a second-half collapse by the Yankees. Judge mashed at a .349/.502/.784 clip following the All-Star break, belting 29 home runs and reaching base in more than half of his 307 plate appearances. The rest of the lineup, meanwhile, looked utterly lifeless in the season’s final months; non-Judge Yankees hitters combined for a disastrous .223/.292/.360 slash after the All-Star break.

Judge’s heroics simultaneously pushed the Yankees to a division crown in the AL East (thus landing them a first-round bye in the newly expanded playoff format) and painted a gruesome picture for Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner of just what a Judge-less Yankee team might look like moving forward. While Judge finally went cold with a 1-for-16 slump in a brutal ALCS that saw the team score just nine total runs while being swept by the eventual champion Astros, it’s unlikely the Yankees would’ve even reached that point had he not put the team on his back in such dramatic fashion.

By measure of wRC+, which weights for a hitter’s league environment and home park, Judge was 107% better than an average big league hitter in 2022. It’s the highest single-season mark any qualified hitter has posted since Barry Bonds in 2004, and if you prefer to set Bonds aside for PED reasons, Judge’s 2022 season stands as the best wRC+ of any hitter since Ted Williams in 1957. There’s no overstating just how remarkable his 2022 season was.

Of course, Judge is hardly a one-year wonder. Setting aside some struggles in a brief 2016 call-up that saw him tally just 95 plate appearances, the former no. 32 overall draft pick has been one of baseball’s best hitters for the past six seasons. A 52-homer campaign in 2017 earned Judge not only an unanimous selection as the American League Rookie of the Year but also a second-place finish in AL MVP voting. Injuries impacted each of his next three seasons. Judge missed nearly two months in 2018 when he fractured his wrist upon being hit by a pitch, and he missed time in 2019-20 with a severe oblique strain and a pair of calf strains.

Over the past two seasons, however, Judge has appeared in 94% of the Yankees’ games and been among the game’s very best players in the process. In addition to his 2022 MVP win, he earned a fourth-place finish in MVP balloting in 2021 after slashing .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs. Virtually every batted-ball metric under the sun supports the notion that Judge is a generational talent at the plate. He led the Majors in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate and max exit velocity in each of the past two seasons, according to Statcast, which also ranks Judge as MLB’s leader in “expected” slugging percentage and weighted on-base average in that span.

Judge’s power profile is so prodigious that it’s easy to overlook his defensive skill set, but doing so would undersell his all-around value. Listed at 6’7″ and 282 pounds, Judge might draw the assumption that he’s a plodding slugger who’s a liability with the glove, but that’s in no way reflective of reality. To the contrary, Judge’s 61 defensive runs saved since his Major League debut tie him for eighth among all MLB players, regardless of position. Statcast placed his sprint speed in the 50th percentile among MLB players in 2022, while his arm strength landed in the 93rd percentile. Judge will surely slow down over the life of the contract, but at least for the time being, he’s even a viable option in center field, where he logged a career-high 632 innings this past season while turning in above-average marks in DRS , Ultimate Zone Rating and Outs Above Average.

More to come.

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