Everything we know about the Aaron Judge contract talks, including a late pitch by Padres

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SAN DIEGO — Aaron Judge agreed to return to the New York Yankees early Wednesday morning on a historic nine-year, $360 million contract, but only after a last-minute push from a surprise free agent sweepstakes entrant slugger – the San Diego Padres.

Judge’s deal, which is pending a physical contract, gives him the highest average annual value for a position player in major league history, shattering Mike Trout’s previous record of $35.5 million by nearly $5 million. The deal is two years longer and worth $146.5 million more than the seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer that Judge turned down at the end of the Yankees’ spring training.

Judge, who turns 31 on April 26, skyrocketed his worth by compiling the best year in baseball of all time and hitting 62 home runs to break the American League’s single-season record. He will now be tied with the Yankees through his 39-year season. He is expected to become the captain of the team as part of the agreement, which ensures that he will likely retire in the only uniform he has ever known.

The Giants put a lot of pressure on Judge, and at one point Tuesday seemed to gain momentum in their efforts to sign him. Looking for a big-name slugger, they are now expected to pursue one of the remaining three shortstops in the free-agent market: Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson.

The Padres struck at Trea Turner on Monday, but as is so often the case under general manager AJ Preller, they weren’t ready to stop swinging. Club officials met in person with Aaron Judge at Petco Park in San Diego on Tuesday evening, four sources briefed on the matter said The athletic. However, it is believed that they never got a chance to make a formal offer.

A conversation with Judge indicated that Preller and owner Peter Seidler were seriously considering the pivot of all pivot points. Before Turner agreed to a $300 million deal with the Phillies, the Padres offered the shortstop a $342 million guarantee over at least 11 years, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. Now that they’ve lost Judge, they could begin a more serious pursuit of Bogaerts, who industry sources say Preller is interested in.

However, Judge was a better fit for the Padres than Bogaerts or Turner. Signing him would make San Diego arguably the most star-driven outfield in baseball, with the American League home run king and Juan Soto patrolling the corners. It would be Fernando Tatis Jr. also able to remain in the infield after returning from his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs on April 20, in some combination alongside Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim.

The Padres would have become the first major league team with three $300 million players – Judge, Tatis and Manny Machado. Instead, that accolade goes to the Yankees, who have pitcher Gerrit Cole on a nine-year, $324 million contract and Giancarlo Stanton on a 13-year, $325 million deal they acquired from the Marlins.

With Judge about to return, the Yankees plan to accelerate other free-agent pursuits. Left-hander Carlos Rodón, outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Japanese outfielder Matsataka Yoshida are among the players they are interested in. The team has already re-signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo and reached an agreement with reliever Tommy Kahnle.

The athletic‘s Andy McCullough contributed to this story

(Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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