Aaron Judge was named the 16th captain of the New York Yankees Wednesday after the franchise confirmed the star slugger had re-signed.
The Yankees finally confirmed the American League MVP would be staying in the Bronx on a $360 million deal through to the 2031 season after fending off interest from the San Francisco Giants.
After his record-breaking season, which saw him break Roger Maris’ AL record for home runs, the four-time All-Star earned the title of the Yankees captain – the first since Derek Jeter in 2014.
Aaron Judge was named as the 16th captain of the New York Yankees on Wednesday
The Yankees officially unveiled the returning star Wednesday after confirming his new deal
The slugger was rewarded with the title after he hit a record-breaking 62 home runs in 2022
No. 99 signed a new $360 million deal that will keep him in the Bronx through to 2031 season
At his official unveiling after signing his new mega-money deal, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner announced the six-foot-seven slugger would be the new leader of the franchise.
‘It is my great pleasure,’ said Steinbrenner, ‘thankfully, despite a brief absence, to welcome Aaron not only back to the Bronx but to welcome Aaron back to the Bronx as 16th captain of this great organization, the New York Yankees. An honor and position which he greatly deserves.’
Judge described the title as an honor and insisted he was prepared to lead the team through any obstacle.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner made the announcement during Judge’s official unveiling
Steinbrenner insisted the six-foot-seven slugger ‘greatly deserves’ the honor and position
‘This is an incredible honor. I don’t take lightly,’ Judge began.
I will continue to lead by example. I know there’s going to be a couple of more responsibilities with this, but, I’m here to embrace every single obstacle and continue to lead this team and lead this city to not one but multiple championships down the road.
I want to say, thank you to everyone, my wife, Samantha and my family for being here. That means a lot. Thank you guys.’
Despite now looking to lead the Bronx Bombers to multiple Word Series titles, the Yankees came very close to losing the star in free agency.
Judge famously declined a seven-year extension offer worth $213.5 million before the season and was rewarded by entering the offseason as the most in-demand free agent after his 62 home runs.
The slugger appeared very close to returning home to California as the Giants launched a massive effort, featuring Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, to lure Judge to San Francisco.
But Judge insisted he belongs in pinstripes as he claimed he still has unfinished business in the Big Apple.
The 30-year-old described becoming the Yankees’ new leader as an ‘incredible honor’
Judge revealed he was left speechless when Steinbrenner told him he would be named captain
He said: ‘In my heart I knew where I wanted to be… but I would have kicked myself if I didn’t go through the process and see what other teams were about. But I belong here in pinstripes and I want to finish my career here in New York.
1. Clark Griffith: 1903-05
2. Norman “Kid” Elberfeld: 1906-08
3. Willie Keeler: 1909
4. Hal Chase: 1910-11
5. Frank Chance: start 1913 – midseason
6. Rollie Zeider: midseason 1913 – end of season
7. Roger Peckinpaugh: 1914-21
8. Babe Ruth: 3/13/1922-5/25/1922
9. Lou Gehrig: 4/12/1935-1939
10. Thurman Munson: 4/17/1976-8/2/1979
11. Graig Nettles: 1/29/1982-3/30/1984
12. Willie Randolph: 3/4/1986-10/2/1988
13. Ron Guidry: 3/4/1986-7/12/1989
14. Don Mattingly: 2/28/1991-1995
15. Derek Jeter: 6/3/2003-2014
16. AARON JUDGE: 12/21/2022-present
‘There’s a lot of unfinished business here in New York,’ he added, ‘I’m looking forward to finishing that business. Trying to leave a legacy here for the next group of guys coming behind me.’
The California native revealed he was left speechless when Steinbrenner told him he would be named captain.
‘I was kind of lost at words,’ he said. I don’t think I said anything for five minutes. I was pretty taken back. That is such an incredible honor. You look back on this list of individuals who had this title. It’s such an honor.’
The Yankees’ last captain, Jeter, who led the franchise from 2003 to 2014, and Willie Randolph who carried the mantle from 1986 to 1988 were also in attendance at the press conference.
As Judge slipped into pinstripes on the dais, he noticeably did not have a ‘C’ on his jersey, just like the previous Yankees leader during his reign.
New York’s 15th captain endorsed the changing of the guard as he claimed that everything about Judge ‘screams out leader.’
‘My playing career is over with and I’ve gotten to know Aaron better over the last few months and everything about him just screams out leader,’ Jeter told the YES! Network.
‘I said it I think when I was here, someone asked about him being named captain and I said the best thing to find out is talk to his teammates because it’s unfair for me to say. I’m not around him every day and everyone says the exact same thing.’
Judge was reportedly in San Diego when the Yankees put the $360m offer on the table. The San Diego Padres made a late offer too, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, but once the Yankees showed their hand, Judge’s decision was made. USA Today says the Padres made a 10-year offer worth $400m.
Previous captains Willie Randolph (left) and Derek Jeter (right) were also in attendance
The Yankees’ 15th captain, Derek Jeter, claimed ‘everything about Judge screams out leader’
Judge noticeably did not have a ‘C’ on his jersey, just like Jeter did during his 11-year reign
Judge entered the offseason as the most in-demand free agent after his 62 home runs
He revealed free agency was tough but leaned on discussions with his ‘rock’, wife Samantha, who joined him on the dais at his press conference.
He confessed the pair knew in their hearts that they belonged back in the Big Apple.
‘This whole free agency process was a different situation,’ he admitted. ‘I think it was valuable to see some other places and hear some opinions. Once that was all done, I got a chance to sit down with my wife and talk about a couple of things. We came to the decision that was in our heart. We belong in New York.’
Judge is a homegrown Yankee, having been originally selected by the club in the first round (32 overall) of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Fresno State.
Over parts of seven seasons with the Yankees (2016-22), he has batted .284/.394/.583 (748-for-2,638) with 535R, 121 doubles, 4 triples, 220HR, 497RBI, 472BB and 40SB in 729 games.
Judge’s wife, Samantha, joined her All-Star husband on the dais at the press conference
He revealed free agency was tough but leaned on discussions with his ‘rock’, Samantha
The 30-year-old poses with his wife Samantha and parents Patty (right) and Wayne Judge (left)
A right-handed hitting outfielder, Judge was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 2017, batting .284 (154-for-542) with 52 home runs and 114 RBI. Most recently in 2022, Judge was named AL MVP, hitting an American League-record 62 home runs and batting .311/.425/.686 (177-for-570) with 133R, 28 doubles, 131RBI, 111BB and 16SB in 157 games.
Manager Aaron Boone claimed Judge had already been a de facto captain through the way he treated everyone within the organization but expressed his delight at it being confirmed.
‘He’s everything,’ Boone said. ‘Start between the lines, he’s obviously an amazing two-way player, one of the great players in our sport.
‘He’s an ambassador for the game but an ambassador for the New York Yankees. The integrity he has, the poise he has, the confidence he has, and his ability to relate and connect to everyone within our organization.
‘He was already the captain of the Yankees but [I’m] glad it’s official now.’
In addition to re-signing Judge, the Yankees also retained Anthony Rizzo on a reported two-year deal worth $40m with a club option for $17m for a third year and added starting pitcher Carlos Rodon.