aaron judge yankees
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Former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez knows a thing or two about signing long-term contracts for an obscene amount of money. He not only signed a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers, but he also opted out of it to sign a 10-year, $275 million contract with New York.

So, you know he was going to have some thoughts on Aaron Judge and his record nine-year, $360 million contract to remain in the Bronx.

Despite being the top available player on the free-agent market, we didn’t get a lot of leaked details about the slugger’s wants and desires. Well, outside of the San Francisco Giants’ offer getting leaked just hours before he agreed to return to the Yankees, that is. But still, New York didn’t know Judge was coming out to San Diego during the Winter Meetings, or why he was doing it in the first place (he went to meet the Padres).

It seems like Brian Cashman and Co. weren’t really sure Judge wanted to be a Yankee until team owner Hal Steinbrenner reportedly closed the deal with one final phone call. Here’s what A-Rod had to say about the past few months for Judge and how he handled it all (quote via NJ.com):

I just think Aaron Judge really taught a masterclass on how to go about your last year, how to negotiate, how to keep everything nice and tight … When you zoom out, I think you have to look at this a little more analytically. We have learned nothing about Aaron Judge over the last 12 months, at least the fans of New York. I mean, he is top-shelf character, great talent, Madison Avenue-worthy. And at the end of the day, if Brian Cashman and that front office would have handled Aaron Judge like the Atlanta Braves, could have signed him 3 or 4 years ago for $100 million, and then take that delta of $260 million, and bring in complementary players around Aaron Judge to help the Yankees land a title.

Everything really did play out in Judge’s favor. He not only earned himself a record payday and the biggest contract in Yankees history, but the outfielder will probably also be the team’s next captain. But let’s just recap where things were before that final phone call with Steinbrenner.

The Yankees infamously offered Judge a seven-year, $213.5 million extension last spring. In addition to his 2022 contract, it would’ve brought his guarantee to eight years and about $230 million. Even with New York’s reported eight-year, $320 million offer from a few days ago, Judge was already set to make more than $100 million and get another year on his contract from that original offer.

But with heat from the Giants and Padres, he tacked on yet another year and $40 million. Just tremendous negotiating for the slugger to get everything he wanted. He got the contract he was hoping for and the record AAV with the team he wanted to play for.

A-Rod was right — this was a masterclass when it comes to contract negotiations. While Judge felt some initial regret about turning down that offer last spring, it turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made.

Matt Musico can be reached at matt.musico@xlmedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.