New York Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge reportedly has had a change of heart.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported that Judge and the Yankees have agreed to a $19 million deal to avoid arbitration on Friday. ESPN's Buster Olney initially reported that the slugger turned down the team's settlement offer.
Feinsand added that Judge can earn an additional $250,000 by winning American League MVP and/or World Series MVP.
Prior to the start of this season, Judge reportedly turned down a $213.5 million contract offer from the Yankees, which opens the door for him to test free agency this offseason. He's in the midst of his best season in the majors after getting off to a scorching start to the year.
Judge leads MLB with 27 home runs while batting .304 and notching 53 RBI. He went 2-for-5 and hit a walk-off RBI-single in New York's comeback victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday, which was the team's ninth walk-off win of the season. With the AL MVP frontrunner in their lineup, the Yankees lead the majors with a 52-18 record.
The Yankees' initial offer to Judge for this season was $17 million, while he was reportedly seeking to earn $21 million.
Arbitration cases are usually handled during the offseason, but the 99-day MLB lockout affected the league's calendar. Despite the timing of the hearing, Olney noted that the three-person panel in the case wouldn't have been allowed to consider Judge's production from this year because "any evidence generated after the start of the 2022 season cannot be presented" by either side.
Now that Judge and the Yankees have come to an agreement, to focus should solely be on the team's pursuit of a return to the World Series for the first time since 2009. However, Judge's impending free agency looms large over the rest of the season, as New York has to hope it doesn't lose its best player.