Thursday, March 23 2023
Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge / SNY screengrab

Aaron Judge was officially re-introduced as a Yankee on Wednesday morning in the Bronx, following the slugger agreeing to a nine-year, $360 million contract with the team earlier this month.

Judge’s free agency experience proved to be a roller coaster, especially in the final days and hours. Rumors started flying about Judge potentially ending up with his hometown San Francisco Giants, but Yankees managing partner and chairman Hal Steinbrenner stepped in and made sure that the team would do everything possible to get Judge back in pinstripes.

“It was difficult. I was actually on a plane so I really kind of missed all the stuff going on about where I was going, where I was going to be at,” Judge said. “Thankfully there was no Wi-Fi on that plane so I kind of missed that whole mess.

“It was a stressful time but it ultimately came down to me and Hal getting on the phone and talking about some things, and he was kind of the one who spearheaded it all and said ‘What’s it going to take?’ I even go back to our first conversation after the season ended. He said ‘You’re going to be a Yankee,’ and this was within five minutes of me being there. I was like ‘Okay, we’re going to be in here negotiating, going over things, I’m going to need to have a poker face on,’ but he came right out and spoke from his heart and said ‘You’re going to be a Yankee for life. We’re going to get this deal done. I don’t like waiting, so let’s go for it.’

“So the day before (coming to a deal) was stressful, but I think I knew in my heart where I was going to be.”

And while Judge reportedly had other offers from the Giants and San Diego Padres, he ultimately wanted be back in New York and help cement his legacy by bringing another championship, or two, to the Bronx.

“It was tough, that’s why this whole free agency process was a different situation,” Judge said. “I think it was valuable to see some other places and hear some opinions, but once that was all done, I had a chance to sit down with my wife and talk about a couple of things. We both kind of came down to the decision that was in our heart, which is we belong in New York, we belong in this city. There’s a lot of unfinished business here in New York, and I’m looking forward to finishing that business and trying to leave a legacy here for the next group of guys coming behind me.”

After all, Judge is a true homegrown superstar. Drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft, Judge has risen through the organization and is now one of the game’s biggest names.

Now, Judge — who was named the 16th captain in team history — has a chance to go down as one of the great players in the franchise’s storied history.

“I came up with the Yankees. I came up through this legacy,” he told the YES Network. “I learned from the very first day what this organization is about, and it’s winning. It doesn’t matter – we don’t have names on the back of these jerseys. It’s about playing for what’s on the front, and that, for me, just spoke volumes. Everybody up and down through the organization, form minor league coaches, staff, all the way up to the major league staff, everybody’s focused on one goal, which is to go out there and win.

“In the time I’ve been here, we haven’t ultimately brought that championship home, so I think that kind of weighed on me a lot, of coming here and wanting the finish the business that I started out in 2013, so that was always deep in my heart.”

Source: Yahoo Sports


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