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MLB: Can Aaron Judge lead the New York Yankees to the World Series?

Earlier this month, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge signed a nine-year, $360 million deal becoming the largest free agent contract in Major League history. 

The Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2009 and for a franchise that has won the Fall Classic the most, 27 times, can Judge guide his side to the title that the Bronx Bombers expect. 

New Deal

Judge backed himself to get a better deal than what the Yankees first offered him in April of 2022. He turned down a deal worth $213.5 million over seven-years, which was a gamble. 

Last month, Judge was crowned the American League Most Valuable Player beating two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros. Judge was the first Yankees' outfielder to win the award since Mickey Mantle in 1962. 

Judge led the AL in a host of offensive categories, including home runs (62) RBI's (131), slugging percentage (.686) on-base percentage (.425) he previously finished as runner-up in the 2017 AL MVP awards but won the Rookie of the Year award instead. 

In the end, Judge felt it enough to stay with the Yankees to pursue the World Series dream with the franchise. 

Grabbing a nine-year, $360 million deal on the back of such an outstanding season is kudos to Judge, he wasn't offered that type of money before, but he backed himself, and he got the big deal that he was searching for. 

Naturally, there were one or two other franchises that were on the horizon. Out of the running pretty quickly was the New York Mets. 

Following their departure from the playoffs, the Mets announced their needs were more in pitching than slugging. However, was there a possibility that the west-coast boy Judge was heading home? 

Giants or Padres?

At one stage it was thought that Judge was on his way home to the Bay Area to become a San Francisco Giant. 

All throughout the process of Judge's season, the Giants kept tabs with his people to make sure they were spoken to regarding any negotiations. 

Some people in the media thought that Judge had made a move to join the Giants right at the last moment, however this was proven to be untrue. What was true was that the Padres had made a counter-bid for the sluggers' services. 

The Yankees needed a big hitter in their negotiations and this came in the form of their owner Hal Steinbrenner. 

Judge understands steward' role

Speaking to The Athletic, general manager Brian Cashman said about Steinbrenner: "He understands as a steward of this franchise and for this fan base that this was a type of player that's once in a generation that comes along. 

"He was going to have to ride hard on this. A, out of respect to the player, and B, out of the importance of making sure that the outcome was hopefully going to be him staying. 

"If that wasn't going to be the case, nobody would accuse him or the franchise of being deficient in any way shape or form. Ultimately, if the player wants to go somewhere else, that would be his choice as a free agent. But Hal Steinbrenner intended to make that hard. 

"If somebody at ownership level wants to place the captaincy title around that, there certainly wouldn't be an issue on my end. Aaron Judge has been a leader for this franchise in every way shape or form."

And the best news from the Yankees support-base is that they have him for a further nine years to try and win a World Series championship. They can now build their roster around their superstar and add more pieces to get that 28th crown. 

The Yankees seem to come unstuck against the Astros most recently in the playoffs. New York is +800 to win the World Series in 2023, they are always one of the favourites. The Yankees meanwhile are +400 for American League glory in 2023.

However, the competition is stronger by each and every year, the Astros were the best team in baseball overall last season, and that is a hurdle to Yankees have to try and leap first.

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