Aaron Judge’s big bet paid off.
The slugger agreed to a nine-year, $360 million contract with the New York Yankees on Wednesday morning, according to multiple reports.
Judge bet on himself before the 2022 season by declining a seven-year $213.5 million offer from the Yankees before opening day. He then put up one of the greatest seasons in the sport’s history, hitting .311 with an American League record 62 home runs and an eye-popping 10.6 wins above replacement. He tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs.
“He‘s an amazing player and an amazing person that certainly has the respect of everyone in that room,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “and guys look to him, look up to him.”
The $40 million per season makes Judge the highest-paid position player in baseball by average annual value. In total dollars, the deal trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million contract with the Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 one with the Dodgers.
The only players in baseball who will make more per season are veteran Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at $43.3 million apiece. Verlander signed with New York earlier this week.
New York general manager Brian Cashman did not comment on the deal to the Associated Press, but he was “optimistic that we’re in a good place.” He credited Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and referenced Hal’s late father, George.
“I’ve been here a long time,” Cashman, who has been the Yankees’ GM since 1998, “and I know how George Steinbrenner did business and how he went about doing business, in recruiting free agents and retaining free agents, and he was intimately involved. And I saw a lot of that in this process, too.”
Judge reportedly could become New York’s first captain since Derek Jeter retired after the 2014 season.
“I’m for anytime a decision like that they want to make, I support that decision 110%,” Cashman said.
Judge also visited the San Francisco Giants, according to multiple reports, but he decided to stay in the Bronx.
An erroneous Twitter report Tuesday had Judge actually nearing a deal with the Giants.
“Kind of that pit in my stomach all day,” Boone said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.