Aaron Judge’s Yankees return was a family decision, but his agent knew it

Aaron Judge with his family during his formal re-introduction at Yankee Stadium on December 21.

Table of Contents

NEW YORK — Aaron Judge never talked about his choice during the free agency though his 2022 offseason saga is something that baseball players and fans will talk about for a long time. He hit an AL record of 62 home runs, became the MVP award, and narrowly missed the Triple Crown. The same respect should be given to the year that his agents just had.

On Wednesday, at Yankee Stadium, where he was coronated as the 16th captain, Aaron Judge told that his return to New York was a family decision. He credited this to his parents and wife Samantha and said:

“We came to the decision that was in our hearts, which was that we wanted to be in New York. My blood, sweat, and tears have gone into one thing, which is to play for this team and play for this city and these fans. Knowing that I get to continue to do that and do it in one city, words can’t really describe it. It’s such an incredible feeling.”

The agent knew it all

Aaron Judge’s longtime agent, Page Odle, runs a small business called PSI Sports. The second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, Kolten Wong, is probably Odle’s second biggest client. But Odle knew from the beginning what his player wanted. “He wanted to be a Yankee,” Odle says. “If you get anything from me today, that is what he wanted,” and Odle helped him make it happen.

In the end, Aaron Judge got the biggest free agent deal in history because he played well. On Wednesday, the Yankees made him captain at the press conference where they announced his nine-year, $360 million contract. But he signed with the Yankees because he did well when he played for them.

The Giants were very interested in Aaron Judge, who grew up in Linden, California, 90 miles east of Oracle Park. They flew him to San Francisco the week of Thanksgiving and had Steph Curry, the star of the Golden State Warriors, sell him on the Bay Area. They also had Rich Aurilia, the longtime shortstop for the Giants, who was his childhood hero, help them recruit him.

Social media went crazy over images of Aaron Judge walking into a San Francisco hotel that same week. When asked about the purpose of his visit, the slugger smiled and said, “Just to see some family and friends.” So, that’s it.” He smiled.

Several news stories say that Judge set up the moment. “We had nothing to do with the video,” says Odle. Also, he says that PSI was not behind reports that Aaron Judge would fly to San Diego to meet with teams during the winter meetings. Neither Judge nor his team reacted to the wider media coverage of their moves this winter. The Yankees won the race despite the Giants and the Padres doing their best to snatch Judge away.

The scary comment by Aaron Judge

The Yankees got scared when a TIME article quoted Judge criticizing about how GM Brian Cashman handled a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension offer the team made the day before the season started. Cashman told everyone about the terms of the deal that Aaron Judge turned down.

Aaron Judge told TIME:

“I was a little upset that the numbers came out. I know it’s a way of negotiating. Put pressure on me. Turn my fans and the media against me. I didn’t like that part.”

The story was posted online on December 6, just hours before Aaron Judge flew to San Diego to meet with the Padres. He didn’t tell the Yankees he was coming, and when he was in town, he didn’t meet with them.

Aaron Judge said on Wednesday that he and Cashman “don’t remember things the same way,” but that they have made up. Odle didn’t want to say anything, but he did say, “He was forced to become a free agent in some way.”

In any case, Aaron Judge used his own ways to negotiate. Even though he told Odle that he was becoming more sure he wanted to stay a Yankee as the process went on, Aaron Boone didn’t get an assurance from him. Boone has been Judge’s manager for five of his six years with the Yankees but had no idea where the slugger was heading to.

On December 6, the day of the TIME story and the meeting with the Padres, a false report said that Aaron Judge had chosen the Giants. Boone believed it. Cashman said that he called the general manager “in a panic.” He then called Judge to tell him again how important he was to the team and to him personally.

“I think it got real for everybody,” Odle says. During the season, Cashman acknowledged that Aaron Judge had gone from a player the Yankees wanted to “re-sign to one they could not lose.” However, Judge’s team was concerned about a key sticking point: “There were no signs they were willing to go to nine years.”

Hal came to the rescue

But the Giants were, and all of a sudden the Padres got involved. Hal Steinbrenner was on vacation in Italy when he called Judge at 3 a.m. Pacific time and asked what it would take. Aaron Judge wanted a ninth year and Steinbrenner agreed.

Aaron Judge said that it would have been hard from a money point of view had the team refused to offer the ninth year. He didn’t say if he was ready to do it or not. He didn’t have to.

When asked on Wednesday if he thought the other teams were used as bargaining chips or if they were real destinations, Steinbrenner didn’t say for sure. He said, “Look, I have no idea what the other offers are, right? I have no idea what is on the table. I don’t know what promises have been made to him. I don’t know what happened in the face-to-face meetings or what he thought of their group compared to ours. I had no idea about any of that.”

Odle claims, “He wanted to go through the process, but in his heart of hearts, he wanted to be a Yankee.” The benefit of listening to other presentations was to define his market. Because that was really the key. I think that’s why the Yankees waited so long. They really wanted to see if his market was, you know, what it was, and obviously it was.”

As he was talking, Aaron Judge walked by wearing the only jersey he has ever worn and will ever wear. He was happy. He did not wink. He wasn’t forced to.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

Related posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Pinstripes Nation!

Your Daily Dose of Yankees Magic Delivered to Your Inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Don't Miss Any of the Latest Yankees News, Rumors, and Exclusive Offers!