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Aaron Judge, free agency, records, home runs, New York Yankees, reaction, contract, pay


After blasting a walk-off home run against the Houston Astros in June, Aaron Judge had an unfortunate slip of the tongue. At least, that is what the New York Yankees superstar called it.

“When you’re the best player on the team,” Aaron Judge said in an on-field interview with YES Network“how can you not [be confident]?”

Judge was quickly to correct himself, telling reporters he meant to say ‘when you are the best team in the planet’. Although, really, he did not have to do that.

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Aaron Judge cannot be stopped. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

It is not as if anyone would be disputing Judge. He is not just the Yankees’ best player, he may just be the best in the league.

It is why Judge was confident to make a big bet on himself before this season. With free agency looming, the 30-year-old knocked back a seven-year, $213.5 million ($AUD306m) contract extension in spring training.

One source close to the situation told USA Today Sportsthat Judge wanted at least a nine-year deal for around $324 million ($A464m). That figure sits in the ballpark of multi-year, big-money offers made to Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, and Mike Trout.

Although there is a key difference. Unlike those three, Judge is already 30 years old. Harper and Trout were 27 when they signed their deals while Betts was only 26.

Aaron Judge keeps blasting home runs. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Judge also had a concerning injury history, missing a total of 140 days between 2018 and 2020 with a broken wrist, oblique strain and calf strains.

“I’m all for paying this guy $400-500 million but do it over seven years,” former MLB pitcher Rob Dibble said on 98.7FM ESPN New York.

“They certainly have the money to do it. He’s not going to hit like this until he’s 45, he’s not like a Tom Brady. There’s always a lot of inherent risks in going 10-15 years.”

There was no guarantee Judge would get the figure he is after at a rival team, but he was willing to take the risk.

It is a risk that, at this stage, looks like it will pay off in a big way. Judge has been on a record-breaking tear this season, most recently becoming the second-fastest player in MLB history to reach 200 career home runs.

Judge reached that milestone when he hit his 42nd homer of the season in an 8-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

The 364-foot, two-run blast off Royals pitcher Jonathan Heasley made him the first Yankee to hit 42 home runs before August 1, breaking a tie with legendary Babe Ruth who hit 41 through July 31 in 1928.

It also continues to put Judge on pace to soar past Yankees legend Roger Maris’ non-PED-aided single-season home run record in 1961 (61).

Most recently, Judge hit his 10th home run since the All-Star break in a 7-2 win over the Seattle Mariners, taking his season total to 43.

“Judge is doing something that’s beyond special in this day and age of baseball, everything that he’s doing for this franchise,” Anthony Rizzo said after Tuesday’s victory.

“It’s fun to be a part of.”

Aaron Judge watches the flight of his eighth inning grand slam home run against the Kansas City Royals. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Judge, who is the leading contender for American League MVP, has outhomered 10 different teams in the second half of the season. He has also driven in 23 of the Yankees’ 45 runs in their past eight games.

“I’d have a hard time drawing up a better all-around player, from performance to the person that he is,” Yankees general manager Aaron Boone said of Judge.

The four-time All-Star is also making headlines with his work in the outfield, showing off his size and sheer athleticism with a stunning catch-of-the-year candidate on MJ Melendez.

MLB insider Jeff Passan said on the ‘Rich Eisen Show’ a few months ago that if Judge stayed healthy, he would be looking at a contract “that starts with a three”.

“The question is going to be just how high it goes,” Passan added.

That number is only increasing with every record Judge breaks and highlight reel play he produces.

“It’s unbelievable,” Tino Martinez told reporters at 74th Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium.

“I mean, it’s amazing to watch what he’s doing. Last night for example, he hit two home runs when they needed it. I’d love to see him win a World Series.”

AARON JUDGE STATS (SEASON TO DATE)

Home Runs: 43

Runs: 89

Hits: 115

RBI: 93

AVG: .299

OBP: .384

SLG: .680

OPS: 1.064

Stolen Bases: 10

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