MLB free agent update: Judge chooses to stay in NY, Phillies nab Turner

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News


Aaron Judge is staying in New York.

The American League Most Valuable Player has agreed to a nine-year, $360 million contract to remain with the Yankees, according to several news reports Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Judge became a free agent after setting an American League record with 62 home runs. He also batted .311 and led the AL with 123 RBIs.

Judge chose to stay in New York over leaving for San Francisco.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made it clear re-signing Judge was the team’s top priority.

“We’d love to have our player back,” Cashman said Monday at the winter meetings in San Diego. “We would love to continue to call him our player every step of the way as he follows what looks like, as long as nothing happens, a career path that will lead him to Cooperstown. I would like him to be in pinstripes every step of the way.”

Judge is a four-time All-Star with 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven seasons in the majors.

His signing is expected to be the biggest move of the offseason in major league baseball.

Phillies sign Turner and Walker

The Philadelphia Phillies already made a splash this week, agreeing to a deal on Monday with All-Star shortstop Trea Turner for $300 million over 11 seasons. The reigning National League champions also strengthened their starting rotation by agreeing to a deal with right-hander Taijuan Walker for $72 million over four years.

Turner helped the Washington Nationals win a World Series in 2019 and spent the last 1 1/2 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted .298 with 21 homers, 100 RBIs, and had 27 stolen bases last season.

“I really philosophically believe that you win with star players,” Phillies president David Dombrowski said this week.

Now, you can’t win with star players alone, but you can build around star players. I’ve really always had that belief. As I’ve observed, it’s been successful for the clubs that win. I had somebody tell me … ‘Philosophically from an ownership perspective, we disagree with you. We don’t believe in star players. We believe in (well-rounded players).’ I said, ‘Well, that’s your belief, but usually I have found, wherever I’ve been, it’s been good star players that have won.’

Walker was 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts last season with the New York Mets. He struck out 132 batters and walked 45 in 157 1/3 innings. Walker threw 159 innings with New York in 2021, making the National League All-Star team.

Mets sign Cy Young winner Verlander

The Mets, who also lost ace Jacob deGrom last week to the Texas Rangers, are adding AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. The team reached an agreement with the 39-year-old righty on Tuesday for a two-year deal worth $86.66 million, per multiple reports.

Verlander’s deal for an average of $43.33 million equals Max Scherzer’s deal with the Mets. The two pitchers were teammates in Detroit previously. His contract includes an option for $35 million in 2025. Verlander was 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA in 28 starts for the Houston Astros. He was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the World Series.

deGrom heads to Texas

The Mets moved quickly to replace deGrom, who agreed to a $185 million, five-year deal with the Rangers last week. Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy expressed his excitement about the signing.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled, more excited that we were able to bring him here. And I’m thankful — first of all, to Jacob for coming to Texas, but also for (general manager Chris Young), ownership, to step up the way they did to get a guy that was very much a need for us, a guy that’s going to head up this rotation. You’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the game. For him to be leading the way was a big need for us. And it makes our club so much better when you get a player like this. I couldn’t have been happier.