Yankees’ AL East Rival Made Massive Free Agent Offer to Aaron Judge: Report

For a quick moment, Aaron Judge wasn’t a New York Yankee.

Well, sort of.

More news: Yankees Reportedly Sign Longtime AL East Pitcher

In the 2022 offseason, an infamous tweet was sent out by New York Post insider Jon Heyman: “Arson Judge appears headed to Giants.”

This misspelled tweet sent the baseball world into a frenzy, as Judge was coming off a record-breaking season in which he hit 62 home runs, the most in American League history.

Judge bet on himself and could not have had a better season, and got rewarded with an offseason bidding war between the incumbent Yankees, Giants, and San Diego Padres, among others. For a brief moment in time, Judge appeared to be leaving the Yankees. However, in the end, Judge returned to the Yankees on nine-year, $360 million deal. This year, he’s a leading American League Most Valuable Player candidate yet again.

More news: Aaron Judge Passes Babe Ruth For Yankees Record Amid Historic Season

While the Giants, Padres, and Yankees were the teams most widely publicized to be in on Judge, Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times published a story Wednesday that detailed the Tampa Bay Rays’ pursuit.

Ackert reports that the Rays offered Judge a 10-year, $300 million contract, one that surprised even Judge himself.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 04: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees walks out of the dugout during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 04, 2022 in…

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

“The Rays, that surprised me,” Judge said to Ackert. “It was a very respectful (offer), and I appreciated that they reached out and that they thought enough of me to do that.”

Judge continued, “I respect their team. I respect what they have built here. They have a good club, and their team is tough. But it was so hard to think about (playing for them), because I’ve spent my whole career game-planning against them and trying to beat them.”

The Rays have been AL East rivals of the Yankees since they were established in 1998. Clearly, that meant something to Judge, who didn’t want to don the uniform of a Yankees’ rival.

Moreover, the Rays’ reported offer didn’t exactly compete with that of the Yankees. While it had one extra year, it was $60 million shy of the Yankees’ offer, and a whopping $10 million less in average annual value.

Still, the usually frugal Rays were unusually willing to spend on a superstar, which should mean something as the team looks to get back into contention. Since reaching the 2020 World Series, the Rays have just one postseason win, and haven’t gotten past the AL Divisional Series.

Read more: Tampa Bay Rays Star Formally Charged by Dominican Prosecutors: Reports

This year, the Rays are fighting to even reach the postseason as a Wild Card team. They’re 45-46 entering Wednesday’s game against the Yankees.