After reports came out late yesterday afternoon that “Arson” Judge decided to sign with the San Francisco Giants, my stomach started to drop. I felt sick. That report was quickly retracted, but I still couldn’t shake that uneasy feeling all night long. I had trouble falling asleep, and because of how the events of yesterday played out, I had a feeling that I was going to wake up to news about Aaron Judge making the decision that would define the 2022 MLB offseason.
Well, I was right about a few things, but apparently that sinking feeling in my stomach had nothing to worry about. I woke up to a push notification on my phone “AARON JUDGE STAYING WITH THE YANKEES.”
I couldn’t believe it. Somehow I believed the false one from yesterday more, but apparently it’s all true.
Source confirms: Aaron Judge in agreement with Yankees, nine years, $360M. First: @JonMorosi.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2022
That’s a big commitment from the team for an even bigger player, both literally and figuratively.
At the start of the free agency period, I wrote about how Aaron Judge’s free agency was going to test my fandom. I genuinely didn’t know how the Yankees were going to play Judge’s free agency. I didn’t know if they were legitimately going to put their best foot forward and actually keep negotiating, or do their classic “here’s our offer, take it or leave it.” If they did that and he walked, I was sure to at least take a break or step back from this team.
Throughout this free agency period, though, the Yankees kept saying the right things. Hal Steinbrenner, talking more than ever probably because Brian Cashman wasn’t technically under contract just a couple days ago, seemed adamant about making sure Judge stayed in pinstripes. It was a different feeling compared to their Robinson Canó or Manny Machado pursuits. This felt like the Gerrit Cole winter all over again. The Yankees were actual players this time around and all other teams had to watch out.
It really did seem like if Judge was going to leave, it wouldn’t be because of a bad offer from the Yankees, but because he just wanted to play elsewhere. The biggest threat to that was the Giants, the team he dreamt about playing for as he was growing up. Ultimately, the Yankees pitch was enough to squash that dream and continue a new one: One where he’s in the same uniform for his entire career and one that likely puts him in the same list as Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly as just the 16th captain in New York Yankees history. But that’s not a discussion for right now.
Right now, the only thing that matters is that Aaron Judge is coming back to play for the Yankees. This shouldn’t be a tough pill to swallow for any Yankees fans because the best hitter in baseball who just broke the American League home run record is staying with the team. For anyone with any doubts, it obviously took a monster deal to bring Judge back, but there are reports he might have left a larger deal on the table — perhaps from the Padres — to come back to New York.
There will plenty of time to dissect what exactly this move means for the team and the rest of the Yankees’ offseason strategy plans, all of which will be coming shortly on Pinstripe Alley. It does seem like the Yankees will come away with at least one more shiny new toy in the form of a starting pitcher, but none of that matters right now. I’m surely going to soon complain that “all” the Yankees did this winter was bring back Judge and the rest was status quo, but right now, I don’t care.
The only thing that mattered this winter was bringing Aaron Judge back to the Yankees and that’s exactly what happened. In an era defined by the Yankees just doing the bare minimum, Aaron Judge was their bare minimum this winter. It was the least they could do, and they did it. No. 99 will continue to don the pinstripes and that just feels right. It’s the only thing that ever made sense. And now I and other Yankees fans can rest a little easy this winter. For a while it did seem like the Yankees did everything in their power to make Judge upset leading up to this free agency, but luckily Hal Steinbrenner came to play when it mattered most.
We wanted Hal Steinbrenner to pay the man, and the man got paid. Congratulations to Aaron Judge betting on himself in a big way and milking an extra $130 million out of the Yankees!