Yankee fans sighed a breath of relief as star player Aaron Judge signed a contract to continue playing in pinstripes for the next nine years. Last year's American League MVP agreed to a nine-year contract worth a record-breaking $360 million.
Job-hopping may have gotten a lot of attention this year for its value in helping workers command higher salaries, but the opposite proved true for Judge.
Earlier this year, he declined an offer from the Yankees that would have paid him $213.5 million for seven years of play. He knew his talents could be worth more, and took a chance to get it by entering free agency.
In expressing his frustration with negotiations at the time, Judge told reporters he "wants to be a Yankee for life."
That attitude, along with a historic season that saw Judge set a new single-season home run record, helped the slugger broker the more lucrative deal. After reportedly shopping offers from other teams, including the San Francisco Giants, Judge got a deal that worked for him to stay in the Bronx.
At around $40 million per season, Judge will become the highest-paid position player in the league. The total contract, however, isn't quite as big as the league's top earners.
Of course, $40 million a year is nothing to balk at. Especially considering that's nearly 10 times last season's average MLB salary of $4.4 million, according to ESPN.
And Judge's income doesn't stop when he steps off the field. His star-power helped him garner the most endorsements of any professional athlete in 2021, according to SponsorUnited. Brands including Adidas, Hulu and Pepsi have teamed up with Judge to promote a variety of products throughout his career.
His commitment to the Yankees may help fuel the team's success in the coming seasons, but not without risk. Judge turns 31 in April, which some have pointed out makes this long-term contract a little precarious in a sport where the average retirement age is 29½ and players generally see their success decline as they get further into their 30s.
But Judge has, so far, proved himself an outlier. He stands out both for his huge physical stature (he's 6 foot 7) and all-around talent. He also has a home run record under his belt. Whatever success is left for Judge to find, it seems he's determined to find it as a Yankee.
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