About three and a half hours before embarking on his historic 62-homer season, Aaron Judge found himself fielding questions about a new contract that wasn’t being honored and when he spoke for those few minutes, there was no way the slugger knew he was about to hit the ground running. about to do it. embark on a journey that makes history.
Shortly after Judge’s brief comments on the matter, general manager Brian Cashman took the unorthodox step of telling the sizable audience in the Yankee Stadium interview room the exact amount of the offer, rationalizing that someone would leak it somewhere. time, maybe even that very day and maybe even before the first release of the new season was released.
Nearly eight months after Cashman’s public admission of a $213.5 million offer, Judge will be on his way to an impressive $360 million deal spanning nine years with the Yankees, making it the biggest and most successful bet a player has ever made. have ever done for yourself.
“He’s an incredible player and an incredible person who certainly has the respect of everyone in that room,” manager Aaron Boone said after experiencing the heartbreak of a potential Judge-less lineup.
In the world saturated with gambling and gambling advertisements, most of the time the house always wins and the bettor loses. This time, Judge’s bet made the house (the Yankees) pay an extra $146.5 million winning ticket to make up the difference between the offer and the newly signed contract which is the highest contract for any free agent so far.
And with each of his 62 home runs, the imaginary sound was the cash registers ringing.
Judge and his agents listened to them with the price of his next contract going up and the Yankees listened to them on every sale of anything Judge-related, especially over the past few weeks when Judge hit 60, tied Roger Maris and broke the record.
“Clearly, I never had to trade and try to keep someone who just broke Roger Maris’ American League home run record,” Cashman told reporters at the winter meetings in San Diego.
In April, after the initial offer was rejected, there never seemed any doubt that the Yankees would need to up the ante regardless of whether the season ended with a championship or an earlier round of postseason loss. It was just a matter of how much and the Yankees found their answer every time Judge hit a ball over a fence and rounded the bases.
The signs seemed to be pointing in the right direction for Judge’s return, with general managing partner Hal Steinbrenner saying at owners meetings last month at MLB headquarters that he had met with Judge, making those comments about the close friend. Anthony Rizzo earned a slight raise on his new contract with the Yankees.
Regardless of one’s opinion on the final part of the deal and the prevailing notion that those deals experience a rocky end, retaining their superstar and arguably biggest source of marketing revenue was a no-brainer for the Yankees, who experienced what seemed like an unprecedented experience. amount of fan ill will for a team that reached 99 wins and the ALCS.
The will-or-won’t-want angst began after the Yankees failed to do so within the exclusive trading window, even though there wasn’t even a 52 percent chance of that happening.
Judge was going to explore all that free agency had to offer and that included offers from his hometown team, the San Francisco Giants, and an apparent last-minute meeting with the Padres, who lost Trea Turner despite the fact that they reportedly offered the shortstop $42 million more than his deal with the Phillies.
Then there came a moment that seemed to throw people off when Time magazine named him their “Sportsman of the Year” with an accompanying story, the main quote of which seemed to highlight that Judge was upset that Cashman told the media and subsequent fans from the media on Twitter about the offer just hours before Judge took the first of his 570 at-bats to break the American League record.
It seemed that when those comments were posted there was a chance Judge would leave the Yankees and perhaps that prompted Steinbrenner to take action. Steinbrenner closed the deal long-distance-style by speaking to Judge from Italy after Cashman texted all parties Tuesday night.
And eventually, when word got out about Judge’s impending contract early enough on the East Coast and the morning radio shows were talking about it, the bottom line was that Judge cashed in a way few players actually do while they’re out. saturated with ads and gambling content.
He cashed in because not only did he produce one of the most spectacular seasons in a contract year in any sport, but with every home run he increased the leverage because the contingency plan with the outfielder wasn’t all that appealing and if it cost $360 million, so be it. . for the Yankees, who have the distinction of owning a trio of $300 million contracts.
“(Hal Steinbrenner) stated that he would do everything in his power to make sure that we were able to retain Aaron Judge,” Cashman told reporters Wednesday in San Diego. “Rest assured, he is putting his money where his mouth is in those efforts. ”
And now that the Yankees’ head of house has handed over the money to Judge, the Yankees can move on to the rest of their offseason, improve a team that fell short of World Series expectations, and add to a clubhouse of players. who advocated for Judge to get his big payday.