On the heels of his historic season, Time magazine named New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge its athlete of the year for 2022 on Tuesday.
Aaron Judge (<a href="https://twitter.com/TheJudge44?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheJudge44</a>)—who set a new American League home-run record earlier this year—is TIME’s 2022 Athlete of the Year: <a href="https://t.co/4XNGWvH32x">https://t.co/4XNGWvH32x</a> <a href="https://t.co/z6APx89FGG">pic.twitter.com/z6APx89FGG</a>
Judge smashed 62 home runs for the Bronx Bombers, breaking the single-season American League record of 61 set by Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 1961.
By virtue of his 62 homers, 131 RBI, 133 runs scored and .311 batting average, Judge was named AL MVP for the first time, and he is now in line to land one of the biggest contracts in MLB history in free agency.
With Judge leading the way, the Yankees won their first AL East title since 2019 with a 99-63 record, and they defeated the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Division Series of the playoffs.
That marked the Yanks' deepest playoff run since 2019, although they were swept out of the American League Championship Series by the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.
Judge turned down a contract offer from the Yankees prior to the start of the 2022 season, and that proved to be one of the best decisions of his career, as the 6'7" slugger had a year for the ages.
In an interview with Time, Judge divulged that he wasn't a fan of the fact that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the media that he turned down a seven-year, $213 million offer.
"We kind of said, 'Hey, let's keep this between us,' Judge said. "I was a little upset that the numbers came out. I understand it's a negotiation tactic. Put pressure on me. Turn the fans against me, turn the media on me. That part of it I didn't like."
Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Yankees and San Francisco Giants are believed to be the top two suitors for Judge. The Giants are reportedly being "ultra-aggressive" in their pursuit of Judge, but the Yankees remain in talks with him as well.
SNY's Andy Martino reported that the Yankees are aware it will likely take a nine-year offer to retain the 30-year-old Judge.
It was previously reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan that the Yankees made Judge an offer "in the neighborhood" of $300 million over eight years.
The Yankees have a lot of offensive talent coming up through their prospect pipeline in Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Jasson Dominguez, but they can ill afford to lose Judge.
He is a four-time All-Star and arguably the most feared hitter in the game, which in turn makes the rest of the Yankee lineup that much more dangerous.
Judge is a franchise-altering player, and given what he accomplished in 2022, there is little doubt he deserves to be recognized as the athlete of the year.