arson judge
Tom Horak | USA TODAY Sports

Dear Aaron Judge,

Wow, what a year, right? Your Yankees won 99 games and another AL East title through a true roller coaster of a season. Another ALCS loss to the Astros later, and that World Series ring eluded you yet again.

But not even that can put a damper on batting .314 with 62 home runs and 131 RBI, and being able to call yourself “Aaron Judge: MVP,” and in your contract year, to boot!

In fact, Aaron, let’s talk about that. You’re in the thick of free agency now and anyone with eyes knows where it’s going. You’ll either re-sign with the Yankees and become the highest-paid hitter in baseball, or go home to California and play for the San Francisco Giants.

And if you were to pick San Francisco, could anyone blame you? Of course not! Giants president Farhan Zaidi has made it very clear how interested the Giants are in signing you, Aaron Judge: MVP. It also helps that Oracle Park is a great stadium with its own unique history. Your parents living an hour and a half away in your hometown of Linden is just another selling point.

But be honest, Aaron. For all of San Francisco’s perks (and there are quite a few), are they really worth more than the life you’ve built in New York? The Bronx is where you came of age as a player, where you set rookie home run records before breaking American League records. A section of Yankee Stadium’s right field seats are even called “The Judge’s Chambers” in honor of your opposite field power. It’ll be tough replicating that with Oracle Park’s 24-foot high wall in right field.

Face it. The New York Yankees are your team and have been ever since you debuted with a home run on Aug. 13, 2016. Nobody else feels comfortable saying it, but Aaron Judge is easily Derek Jeter 2.0 from leadership to performance. Anthony Volpe only gets the same hype because he happens to be a shortstop. Anyone who really pays attention knows that you are the one who should succeed the Captain himself.

Still not convinced? Just ask your teammates, past and present. Everyone saw you attended the Bucs-Saints Monday Night Football game, right? How about that you attended with former teammates Corey Kluber and Mike Tauchman? And current teammates Michael King and Nestor Cortes?

Speaking of Cortes, he seems particularly invested in your free agency decision:

And why shouldn’t he be, Aaron? He wasn’t shy in his piece for The Players’ Tribune about how you and Anthony Rizzo bring everyone together, how the Yankees actually care about each other. Was everyone attending the football game (in Tampa, no less, where the Yankees seem to conduct a fair bit of offseason business) together a signal or a grand sendoff to your early career?

Look, no matter what any writer says or speculates, your decision will be what’s best for you and your wife Samantha. All that New York–the city, not the team– asks is that you think of the life you’ve built here together already. Sam just ran the New York City Marathon! Not only that, look at how close you became with Rizzo and his wife Emily, who came out to support Sam as she crossed the finish line. Giancarlo Stanton too!

To say nothing of the fact that if you sign with the Giants, your season starts where your career began: at East 161st Street and River Avenue in front of a raucous Yankee Stadium crowd. If the boos after being swept in the ALCS were loud, they’ll be near-deafening on Opening Day 2023.

Only you can decide your future. The Giants are a great fit for reasons both baseball and personal, but winning in San Francisco might be tough. The Yankees, meanwhile, have already re-signed your buddy Rizzo. The Bronx Bombers are not only prepared to run it back, but maybe add more pieces.

Two choices. Become a Yankee for life, or let your high school yearbook do the talking. The fans love you, Aaron, and so does the city.

We really hope you’ll stay with us.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.