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The New York Yankees have retained their franchise player. Following some social media confusion Tuesday, Aaron Judge will indeed return to the Yankees on a massive nine-year contract worth $360 million, CBS Sports' Jim Bowden confirms. Judge's hometown-ish San Francisco Giants pursued him aggressively and were New York's primary competition, while the San Diego Padres reportedly made a hard push as well.

The $40 million average annual value is a record for a position player, beating out Mike Trout's $35.54 million annual deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Judge joins Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander ($43.3 million annually each) as the only $40-plus-million per year players in baseball history, and he made himself an additional two years and $146.5 million after rejecting a seven-year, $213.5 million extension in spring training.

Judge, the reigning AL MVP, is coming off a historic season that saw him swat 62 homers and break Roger Maris' American League single-season record. Here is the AL's new single-season home run leaderboard:

  1. Aaron Judge, 2022 Yankees: 62
  2. Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  3. Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60
  4. Babe Ruth, 1921 Yankees: 59
  5. Jimmie Foxx, 1932 Athletics: 58
  6. Hank Greenberg, 1938 Tigers: 58

With those 62 home runs came a .311/.425/.686 batting line. Judge was five batting average points shy of a Triple Crown and led baseball in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, runs batted in, runs scored, extra-base hits, total bases, and every public version of WAR. By both OPS+ and WAR, Judge had one of the 10 best seasons of the Expansion Era (since 1961).

Aaron Judge
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Of course, Judge is no one-season wonder. He hit a then-rookie record 52 home runs in 2017 and was the AL MVP runner-up. He also hit .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs in 2021 and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting. Since his rookie season in 2017, Judge ranks second to Trout in OPS+ and second to Mookie Betts in WAR. He is a superstar, through and through.

Judge is more than a great hitter too. He is a very good defender who played more games in center field (78) than right field (73) this past season, and he's a sneaky great baserunner as well. Few players in the sport impact the game in as many ways as Judge. He helps his team at the plate, in the field, on the bases, and in the clubhouse as well. He's regarded as a great leader.

As great as Judge is, this contract is not without risk. Judge turns 31 in April and there is little track record of hitters this size remaining productive as they age, with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield the gold standard for a tall player aging gracefully. Judge has Winfield's freakish athleticism, but there could be a few ugly decline years at the end of the contract.

The Yankees went 99-63 in 2022 and were swept in the ALCS by the Houston Astros. Even with Judge returning, New York still needs to find a left fielder, sort out the left side of their infield, and bring in pitching depth. They are already well over the $233 million competitive balance tax threshold and could push a $300 million payroll depending on their other moves.

The Yankees selected Judge in the supplemental first round of the 2013 draft, with the compensation pick they received for losing Nick Swisher to free agency. Judge rejected the $19.65 million qualifying offer earlier this offseason, though teams do not gain or lose draft picks for re-signing their own qualified free agent.