Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Largest Contracts in MLB History

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 7, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees, Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox pose for a selfie photograph in the outfield during the fourth inning of the 89th MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park Tuesday, July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Sometimes, betting on yourself really does pay off.

Aaron Judge is returning to the New York Yankees after agreeing to a nine-year, $360 million contract, according to multiple reports.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Aaron Judge is in agreement to return to the Yankees on a 9-year, $360M contract per <a href="https://twitter.com/jonmorosi?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JonMorosi</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ken_Rosenthal</a> <a href="https://t.co/VYWKK2yxX9">pic.twitter.com/VYWKK2yxX9</a>

At $40 million per year, Judge becomes the highest-paid position player in baseball. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are both collecting $43.3 million annually from the New York Mets.

The overall payout is also the third-biggest in MLB history.

Richest MLB Contracts

1. Mike Trout (12 years, $426.5 million)

2. Mookie Betts (12 years, $365 million)

3. Aaron Judge (9 years, $360 million)

4. Francisco Lindor (10 years, $341 million)

5. Fernando Tatis Jr. (14 years, $340 million)

6. Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million)

T7. Giancarlo Stanton (13 years, $325 million)

T7. Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million)

9. Gerrit Cole (9 years, $324 million)

T10. Manny Machado (10 years, $300 million)

T10. Trea Turner (11 years, $300 million)

Contract details via Spotrac

At 30 years old, Judge is the oldest player to make the list. That, coupled with a 6'7", 282-pound frame that makes him a physical anomaly in baseball, led many to wonder how far into the future a team would be willing to sign the American League Most Valuable Player.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Nov. 30 the Yankees "have an offer on the table in the neighborhood of eight years and $300 million and could increase it." Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Judge was holding out for a ninth year.

The four-time All-Star had plenty of leverage. He hit an American League-record 62 home runs and led MLB in on-base percentage (.425) and slugging (.686) in 2022. Beyond Judge's value on the field, he also knew the implications for the Yankees if they got outbid for one of the best players in the league.

The fanbase has only grown more restless with each year that has passed since the franchise's last World Series title in 2009. Losing Judge to the San Francisco Giants or another team would've brought significant scrutiny upon ownership and the front office.

There's certainly a chance Judge's salary will look pretty cumbersome in the latter years of his contract. Even great sluggers decline as they get deeper into their 30s.

But the Yankees didn't have much choice other than to meet his asking price, and winning a 28th title will basically make the entire venture worth it.