AL East rival Yankees make huge free agency offer to Aaron Judge: Report

For a moment Aaron Judge was not the New York Yankees.

Well, in a way.

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During the 2022 offseason, New York Post insider Jon Heyman took to Twitter to infamously tweet, “Arson Judge apparently headed to Giants.”

The misspelled tweet sent the baseball world into a frenzy as Judge was coming off a record-breaking season in which he hit 62 home runs, the most in American League history.

Judge bet on himself and couldn’t have had a better season, and he was rewarded with an offseason bidding war between the current Yankees, Giants and San Diego Padres, among others. For a brief moment, it seemed Judge was leaving the Yankees. However, Judge eventually returned to the Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million contract. This year, he is once again a leading candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

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While the Giants, Padres and Yankees have been the talk of the town and their interest in Judge, Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times published an article on Wednesday detailing the Tampa Bay Rays’ efforts.

Ackert reports that the Rays offered Judge a 10-year, $300 million contract, which surprised even Judge.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 4: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees comes off the bench during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 4, 2022.

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

“Rays, that surprised me,” Judge told Ackert. “It was a very respectful (offer) and I appreciate that they reached out to me and thought highly enough of me to do that.”

The judge continued: “I respect their team. I respect what they’ve built here. They’ve got a good club and their team is tough. But it was so hard to think about (playing for them) because I’ve spent my whole career planning to play against them and trying to beat them.”

The Rays had been the Yankees’ rivals in the AL East since their inception in 1998. That clearly meant something to Judge, who refused to wear a rival Yankees uniform.

What’s more, the Rays’ reported offer wasn’t exactly competitive with the Yankees’. While it was an extra year, it was $60 million less than the Yankees’ offer and a whopping $10 million less in average annual value.

Still, the normally thrifty Rays were unusually willing to spend money on a superstar, which should count for something as the team looks to get back into contention. Since reaching the 2020 World Series, the Rays have just one postseason win and haven’t advanced past the AL Divisional Series.

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This year, the Rays are in contention to make the postseason as a Wild Card team. They are 45-46 heading into Wednesday’s game against the Yankees.