New York Yankees' Aaron Judge pauses while speaking at a news conferece after a spring training baseball workout Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Aaron Judge sweepstakes are underway

The 2022 American League MVP Aaron Judge has begun the free agent process by meeting with the San Francisco Giants.

Hometown team

Judge met with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. A team that is viewed as one of the top contenders to lure the outfielder out of New York.

There were multiple meetings between the two parties on Tuesday, including discussions between Judge and ownership. The Giants are pulling out all the stops to land the superstar. Including getting the MVP in touch with someone who is familiar with winning in the Bay Area.

Judge and the Giants look to be a good fit. He is from California and grew up a fan of the ball club. Additionally, he has family that lives close to the area. This emotional attachment can go a long way, as we saw Gerrit Cole prioritize signing with his favorite childhood team in the Yankees just a few years ago.

If Judge were to leave New York. He would join Barry Bonds as the only MVP to ever leave his team via free agency the year after. Bonds won the MVP in Pittsburgh and signed with the San Francisco Giants that next offseason.

The Giants have an opportunity to repeat history. It is expected they will make Judge an offer in the next week.

Judge bet on himself in 2022

Just one offseason ago, Aaron Judge decided to bet on himself. With one year left of team control with the New York Yankees, Judge turned down a seven-year $213.5 million extension to stay in the Bronx. The deal is valued at $30.5 million annually. A massive deal for a massive player, but not deemed worthy of Judge’s services.

Before the 2022 season, Judge had been selected to three all-star teams, won a rookie of the year and was an MVP-runner up in 2017. He won two silver slugger awards before 2022 and led the American League in home runs one year. He was undoubtedly the face of the Yankees and one of the most marketable stars in the game. His accolades were undeniable, but he didn’t receive one of the biggest deals in baseball.

In the last decade, 10 players have inked deals worth more than $300 million. The Yankees decided to not make Judge the 11th. The main factors were Judge’s health and his age.

Judge’s first year played on the extension would be this year at 30 years old. He also has had significant injured list stints in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons. Due to these reasons, the Yankees came to Judge with a large deal but not the kind he thought he was worth. Hence why Judge declined and opted to play in 2022 with no extension and test free agency at the season’s end.

Cashing in after a historic season

The bet on himself paid off. In 2022, Judge had one of the greatest single seasons baseball has ever seen. He broke the American League single-season home run record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961.

He blasted 62 long balls and flirted with the triple crown. As well as slashing a .311 batting average, leading the major leagues in runs-batted-in, runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

In a contract year, Judge proved all doubters wrong. He stayed healthy the entire year, even playing every day after the Yankees clinched the division so that fans could see him break the record. He was dominant and will be paid as the most coveted player in the game.

Now baseball waits to see where Judge rules home to be this winter.

About Nicholas Rubino

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