Aaron Judge Rumors: Yankees Star Told FA Suitors He Valued His Legacy over Money

Adam WellsDecember 9, 2022

Baseball: ALCS Playoffs: New York Yankees Aaron Judge (99) in action, runs to the dugout vs Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Game 2. 
Houston, TX 10/20/2022
CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) 
(Set Number: X164211 TK1)
Set Number: X164211 TK1

Aaron Judge cashed in as a free agent by re-signing with the New York Yankees, but the reigning American League MVP had more on his mind this offseason than simply securing the most money possible.

Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Judge told all of the teams he met with before making a decision that he "didn't want to surrender his legacy over dollars, and all sides respected that."

Judge made Yankees fans sweat before agreeing to a nine-year, $360 million contract on Wednesday, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

According to SNY's Andy Martino, Yankees chairperson Hal Steinbrenner spoke with Judge on the phone after the team began to believe the San Diego Padres were offering at least $400 million and the San Francisco Giants "would get" to that number.

The Yankees were offering Judge $320 million over eight years before the call, but Judge told Steinbrenner a ninth year would get the deal done.

Judge played his free agency to perfection. He staged the video of himself arriving in San Francisco earlier in the offseason, presumably to increase the pressure on New York's front office.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, Judge flew to the winter meetings in San Diego "at the last minute" to make his decision between the Yankees, Padres and Giants.

It was assumed a reunion between Judge and the Yankees was going to be the final result of this entire scenario. He's spent his entire career with the organization, has led them to six consecutive playoff appearances and had a historic 2022 season.

The Yankees haven't often been a franchise that loses its best players, especially at the peak of their careers. They also had no way of immediately replacing his production in the lineup if he signed elsewhere.

Whatever the full motivation for Judge to re-sign with the Yankees, no one will care if he continues to be one of the best players in Major League Baseball. The 30-year-old has made the All-Star team four times in six full seasons since 2017.

The Yankees have made the American League Championship Series three times during that span, but they haven't advanced to the World Series since 2009.