Aaron Judge free agency
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres are serious about competing, so serious that they made a significant offer to Yankees captain and reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that it wasn’t just the San Francisco Giants pursuing Judge. In fact, the Padres went so far as to fly Judge to San Diego on a private jet. Furthermore, they gave him and his wife a tour of Petco Park. Judge’s agency even got an assistant to watch his dog, Penny, at a hotel.

The cherry on top? A rumored 12-year deal worth in excess of $400 million. This would have outpaced both the Yankees’ and Giants’ offers by a wide margin. It would have been all the more impressive since they had already signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts for 11 years and $280 million.

In the end, Aaron Judge remained with the Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million contract and was named the new team captain.

And yet, it’s hard to not wonder what a Padres team featuring Aaron Judge could have been. Imagine San Diego’s lineup with Judge and Bogaerts, and now add Juan Soto and Manny Machado. Now add Nelson Cruz, a returning Fernando Tatis Jr., and former Yankee Matt Carpenter.

Finally, add the Padres visiting the Bronx for Memorial Day weekend this season. “Slam” Diego indeed.

Either way, the Yankees-Padres tilt in May will still be a fun series regardless of what uniform Judge is wearing. Both teams are serious about contending for a World Series in 2023, San Diego especially, and it will be interesting to see how both lineups stack up.

In the meantime, Judge can enjoy his $40 million a year and living out his dream of being a Yankee for life. The California native could have taken more money to go home.

But instead, he took less to stay home.

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.