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Aaron Judge reportedly took over $50 million less in last-minute bid to return to New York Yankees

A new report claims Aaron Judge received a massive last-minute offer from a contending team on the west coast this winter but instead chose to return to the New York Yankees for far less guaranteed money.

Without a doubt, Aaron Judge was the biggest player available on the MLB free agent market this winter. And that is saying something since this class was one of the most star-studded in history. However, rarely does an American League MVP become available with prime years ahead of him.

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Unsurprisingly, many teams were interested in Judge’s services, but few truly had a chance to land the 30-year-old superstar. Before he decided to re-sign with the New York Yankees for nine years and $360 million — and got the highest average annual value ever for a position player — the San Francisco Giants were seen as the other main contender for Judge in free agency.

However, it seems that another title-contending team out west made a hard push for the outfielder in the final hours, and it was not the Los Angeles Dodgers.

aaron judge
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, The Athletic’s MLB insider Ken Rosenthal reported in a column on Aaron Judge’s free agent decision that just before he was to make his final choice, the San Diego Padres made very strong overtures to sign him. And it seems San Diego was willing to guarantee Judge 12 years and $400 million. Rosenthal claims that other sources close to the situation believe the Padres may have even been willing to go as high as $415.

Aaron Judge stats (2022): .284 AVG, .394 OBP, .583 SLG, 62 HR, 131 RBI, 133 R

While $415 for 12 seasons would have meant a lower AAV than the $40 million Aaron Judge is set to get from the Yankees, it would have given him $34 million per season during his ages 40, 41, and 42 seasons. Years when he may be on a very steep decline in performance.

In the end, some late-night texts from New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner helped sway Aaron Judge to remain in pinstripes for the next nine years. The Padres instead diverted that money to signing Boston Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts, and to giving Manny Machado a huge extension last month.