Aaron Judge gives epic reason for passing on rival Rays’ $300M offer

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge (99) looks out from the dugout during the seventh inning inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, April 20, 2024 in New York.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has disclosed the prime reason for not accepting the 10-year, $300 million potential deal from the Tampa Bay Rays during his 2022 free agency. Speaking to Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times, the Yankees captain cited rivalry as the main consideration. He said “it was so hard to think about playing for” the Yankees’ bitter rivals, as he has “spent my whole career game-planning against them and trying to beat them.”

However, Aaron Judge called the proposal “a very respectful offer” and expressed gratitude for the Rays’ interest and respect for their organization.

“It was a very respectful (offer), and I appreciated that they reached out and that they thought enough of me to do that,” the slugger explained. “And I respect their team. I respect what they have built here. They have 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 game-planning against them and trying to beat them.”

Now in the second year of his nine-year, $360 million contract with the Yankees, Aaron Judge acknowledged the competitiveness of the Rays’ proposal. He commended the team’s structure and the challenge they presented as opponents.

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However, the Yankees superstar admitted that envisioning himself playing for a division rival after spending his entire career strategizing against them was difficult. This sentiment underscores the strong ties he has developed with the Yankees organization.

“The Rays, that surprised me,” Judge admitted about hearing from Tampa Bay after he reached free agency. “And just because it was a divisional rival, and I’ve spent my whole career trying to game-plan against them.”

Aaron Judge’s free agency drew many of Yankees’ rivals

Ackert’s report reveals that the Rays’ offer was around 10 years and $300 million. While this was a substantial commitment, it was reportedly the lowest among the offers Aaron Judge received during his free agency.

This revelation provides insight into the competitive nature of Aaron Judge’s free agency period, which also saw active pursuit from teams like the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. Ultimately, he chose to remain with the Yankees, where he was subsequently named the 16th captain in the club’s storied history.

This information sheds light on the behind-the-scenes negotiations during one of baseball’s most high-profile free agency periods in recent years.

Yankees captain Aaron Judge

In a recent interview with Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times, Aaron Judge shared his surprise at receiving an offer from the Tampa Bay Rays during his free agency. As a native of California, he had expected interest from the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres, making the Rays’ approach particularly unexpected, especially given their status as a division rival.

Reports from The Athletic indicate that the Padres extended an offer exceeding $400 million, while the Giants matched the Yankees’ $360 million deal. Despite ultimately turning down the Rays’ offer, Aaron Judge has maintained a connection to the Tampa area, where he owns a home and attends Tampa Bay Lightning hockey games during the offseason.

This revelation sheds light on the intricate decision-making process Aaron Judge navigated during his highly publicized free agency, balancing geographical preferences with team dynamics, Yankees loyalty, and financial considerations.

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