I make no apologies for being a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. They've been my favorite pro sports franchise since I was nine years old. However, I was determined to put the Yanks in the rear view mirror if they failed to sign superstar Aaron Judge this off season. Judge had become a free agent and was without a doubt the biggest name on the free agent list in 2022. It was said to be a battle between the Yankees and San Francisco Giants to secure Judge's services, but in the end Judge chose to remain in pinstripes.
Judge and the Yankees have agreed to a nine-year contract worth $360 million.
As far as money annually, it boils down to $40 million per year, making it the most lucrative deal ever. Mike Trout of the Angels' held that distinction with a 12-year, $464 million contract, worth $38.6 million annually.....until Judge agreed to finish his career with the Yankees.
There are people in baseball who are second-guessing the Yankees, wondering if they overpaid Judge. $40 million a year to play a kid's game seems like a lot of money, but when you consider the scope of the playing field and what other teams are paying their superstars, it's right in line. Judge had one of the best seasons in Major League history this past season when he batted .311, with a record 62 home runs and 131 runs batted in, winning the AL Most Valuable Player award. If you remember, Judge set a rookie record when he hit 52 homers in his initial season. The only season that betters Judge in 2022 is Mickey Mantle in 1956, when he won the triple crown batting .353 with 52 homers and 130 runs batted in.
Unless injuries become a factor for Judge to deal with, he's a shoo-in for enshrinement in Cooperstown. He now has 220 career homers and next season he will be 31 years old. Not only is Judge one of the game's best hitters, he is also a tremendous defensive right fielder, with a cannon for a throwing arm. He is truly one of the game's greatest stars and obviously one of the most valuable commodities in the sport as well.
You have to see Judge in person to really appreciate his freaky athletic ability. He stands six-seven and weighs 282 pounds. I saw him play this past summer when I was in Cleveland and his arms were like tree trunks. He is a massive human being and that may be to his detriment down the road. Players that big don't usually play as long as smaller guys, but Aaron Judge works hard to stay in shape and stay healthy, so only time will tell.
So, for now I still love the New York Yankees. But I will always remember the year that I was ready to give up on them, had they not signed Aaron Judge.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com