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Slugger Aaron Judge agrees to deal to return to New York Yankees

Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs this past season, passing Roger Maris. (LM Otero/AP)
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SAN DIEGO — The biggest news of the Major League Baseball offseason broke shortly after 5 a.m. at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday morning, when word circulated that 2022 American League MVP Aaron Judge would remain a New York Yankee.7

The homegrown New York star agreed to a nine-year deal that will pay him $360 million, according to multiple reports. The San Francisco Giants, Judge’s hometown team, had long been in pursuit of the Yankees star, who has secured the third-largest total contract guarantee ever and will make more in average annual value than any position player in history. The deal was first reported by MLB Network and confirmed by Judge’s foundation on social media.

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Judge will make $130 million more in this deal than he would have had he accepted the $230 million the Yankees would have paid him from 2022 to 2028 via the extension they offered him in April. He hit 62 homers and was in striking distance of the AL batting title until the last few weeks of the regular season. He was the backbone of the Yankees offense — and sometimes all the other bones, too. And he ensured he got a historic deal as a result.

The signing seems likely to set off a frenzied pivot from big spenders such as the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, both of whom chased big offensive stars this winter. It means the Los Angeles Dodgers will have missed out on several of the winter’s top available stars, with shortstops Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts lingering as two of the top offensive options remaining.

But it was actually the pitching market that blew up in the minutes after the Judge news broke, as reports of lefty Jose Quintana heading to the New York Mets and closer Kenley Jansen to the Boston Red Sox emerged from the Athletic and ESPN, respectively.

The Yankees could use a foray into the pitching market next because Judge’s deal does not signal the end of offseason work for the Yankees but rather a prerequisite: They were not good enough to catch the Houston Astros with Judge last season. Re-signing him was the baseline from which they needed to start reshaping their roster this winter. Losing him would have been destabilizing.

But Judge will return to the Yankees clubhouse as the closest thing it has seen to Derek Jeter in a generation and does so following in Jeter’s carefully calculated footsteps as he tiptoes around the public pitfalls New York always seems to elicit from its superstars. Many of Judge’s teammates have said they support Judge being named captain of their storied franchise, an honor more meaningful there than just about anywhere else given the others (Jeter, late catcher Thurman Munson, Lou Gehrig, etc.) who were given that title. Judge said multiple times he wanted to be a Yankee for life. He will be almost 40 when his new deal ends.

This is a developing story and will be updated.