Aaron Judge Rumors: Padres Made 'Significant Offer' Before $360M Yankees Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 7, 2022

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs the bases after hitting a two run home run during the third inning against the Cleveland Guardians in game three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Diego Padres reportedly made a play for outfielder Aaron Judge in free agency before the slugger's reported decision to re-sign with the New York Yankees.

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Padres made Judge a "significant offer" on Tuesday, but he reportedly decided to remain with the only MLB team he has ever played for.

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reported San Diego actually offered Judge more than the Yankees did before Judge ultimately chose to stay with New York. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported San Diego offered Judge a 10-year, $400 million contract.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Judge agreed to a nine-year, $360 million contract with the Yankees, making him the second-highest-paid player in MLB history in terms of total dollars in a single contract, and the highest-paid position player in MLB history in annual salary at $40 million.

For much of free agency, reports suggested that the Yankees and San Francisco Giants were the two main teams vying for Judge's services. It was even reported by Jon Heyman of the New York Post on Tuesday that Judge appeared to be heading to San Francisco, although he quickly retracted the report.

There was always a belief that some surprise teams could emerge as suitors of Judge, and it turns out that the Padres may have been chief among them.

In many ways, it isn't surprising that the Padres reportedly went after Judge, as they have become known for their aggressiveness on the trade and free-agent markets in recent years.

Since 2019, Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Josh Hader are just a few of the big names the Padres have acquired.

Their big moves paid off last season, as they upset the New York Mets in the National League Wild Card Series and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series before falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.

San Diego's bid for Judge reportedly wasn't the only big splash the organization attempted to make this offseason. Per ESPN's Buster Olney, the Padres offered shortstop Trea Turner a deal in excess of shortstop Francisco Lindor's $341 million contract with the Mets, which would have made Turner the highest-paid infielder in baseball.

Instead, Turner reportedly took less to sign with the Phillies, agreeing to an 11-year, $300 million pact, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel.

While signing Turner would have been huge, the Padres signing Judge out from under the Yankees and Giants would have turned the baseball world upside down.

The 30-year-old Judge enjoyed one of the greatest campaigns in MLB history in 2022, smashing a single-season American League record 62 home runs. He also led the AL in RBI (131), runs scored (133) and walks (111), plus he hit a career-best .311.

Although the Padres have yet to land their big fish in free agency this offseason, shortstops Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson are still available.

Even if the Padres don't sign any of them, they still boast one of the best lineups in baseball with Machado, Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jake Cronenworth leading the way.