Aaron Judge, Yankees agree to biggest free-agent deal in MLB history

The New York Yankees have made an unprecedented financial commitment to ensure reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge will finish his career in pinstripes. The free agent outfielder, who hit a AL-record 62 home runs last season has agreed to re-sign with the Yankees for a nine-year deal worth $360 million, according to a baseball official with direct knowledge of the contract.

The official spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized and Judge needs to pass a physical.

Judge’s $360 million contract is the largest by a free agent in baseball history, topping Francisco Lindor’s $341 million deal with the New York Mets. 

He will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. 

PINSTRIPES: Aura of Yankee pinstripes too powerful for Aaron Judge to leave 

TOP-PAID: Where does Judge’s contract rank among MLB’s highest paid players?

The Yankees won what was believed to be a two-team competition for Judge’s services, with the San Francisco Giants also in the running. However, the San Diego Padres made an eleventh hour bid, apparently offering him an even more lucrative deal than the Yankees did.

In the end, Yankees GM Brian Cashman was able to get the deal done.

Judge, 30, bet on himself last offseason, rejecting a deal worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down before opening day in April. He then proceeded to have one of the greatest contract-year performances in history — hitting .311 with 133 runs scored and 131 RBI — and breaking Roger Maris’ AL home run record that had stood for 61 years.

In seven seasons with the Yankees, Judge has blasted a total of 220 home runs while also showing a keen eye at the plate, as evidenced by his .394 on-base percentage. This past season, he showed his defensive versatility by filling a major void and playing a career-high 78 games in center field. Not surprisingly, Judge led all major leaguers with 10.6 Wins Above Replacement.

It all added up to Judge being the overwhelming choice for AL MVP. He received 28 of the 30 first-place votes in easily outdistancing two-way star Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY