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Aaron Judge Named Yankees Captain After $360M Contract; 1st Since Derek Jeter

Adam WellsDecember 21, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits a home run in the second inning during the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 in New York, New York. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The New York Yankees officially have a captain for the first time in eight years.

At Wednesday's press conference to announce Aaron Judge's nine-year, $360 million contract, Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner said the reigning American League MVP will be the team's first official captain since Derek Jeter retired after the 2014 season.

Bryan Hoch @BryanHoch

Aaron Judge is the 16th captain in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Yankees?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Yankees</a> history. <a href="https://t.co/RWiHfm3jVV">pic.twitter.com/RWiHfm3jVV</a>

"To get a chance to continue my legacy here in pinstripes, in the best city in the world, the best baseball city, in front of the best fans, this is an incredible honor," Judge said of being named captain.

The Yankees seemed to give away the surprise when reporters in attendance noted Jeter was present at the press conference.

Jack Curry @JackCurryYES

Derek Jeter is at the Aaron Judge press conference. We can all guess what's next.

While the formal announcement didn't come until Wednesday, it had been speculated Judge would receive the title of captain from the Yankees after they agreed to a deal Dec. 7.

In 2015, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he would be in favor of never giving out the title of captain again following Jeter's retirement.

"I think Derek did it as well as anyone can," Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPN at the time. "He wore it well, and I'm not a big advocate of giving out the captaincy anyway. I'm not going to recommend anyone being named captain of the New York Yankees right away."

The Yankees' eight-year gap from Jeter to Judge is the same amount of time they went without a captain after Don Mattingly's retirement following the 1995 season.

George Steinbrenner didn't name Jeter the captain until midway through the 2003 campaign.

If any player on the Yankees was going to be named captain, Judge seemed like the best choice. He's spent his entire career with the organization, will presumably finish his career in the Bronx with a deal that runs through his age-39 season and has been one of the best players in Major League Baseball since 2017.

Judge set an AL record with 62 homers last season and became the first Yankees player to be named MVP since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge joins Jeter and Mattingly on a list of Yankees captains that includes Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Babe Ruth, Ron Guidry and Willie Randolph.