On the eve of this season, Aaron Judge surprised the public by turning down a $213.5 million, seven-year offer from the Yankees. Judge gambled big, and won big. Yankees president Randy Levine called Judge “an all-time Yankee” on the Post podcast “The Show.” With Judge 55 homers and counting, the price is rising, possibly $75 million or more.
As such, Judge tops my first-ever list of the five best decisions of the past calendar year. Here are the five best and five worst decisions of the past 365 days.
- The judge rejected the Yankees’ offer.
The Yankees made a reasonable bid. But asking for the judge’s own estimated salary of $36 million now seems more than reasonable.
“He’s a $40 million player,” claimed one expert. Although negotiations were not completed, some expected him to leave. One edge the Yankees are talking about: The pinstripes are a big plus.
- The Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman for $162 million, six years.
Speaking of not expecting someone to leave, Freeman appeared close to tears when he returned to play as a Dodger in Atlanta. Regardless, Los Angeles pissed him off with an offer from the Braves ($135 million officially, $140 million verbal) for nearly the same amount (or even less if you factor in California taxes and large deferrals).
- The Phillies named bench coach Rob Thomson as manager, replacing Joe Girardi.
Thomson was Girardi’s right-hand man, but his opposite in demeanor. As serious as Girardi seems, Thomson is as loose. The change has worked wonders, as the Phillies have moved into playoff position.
- The Marlins signed Sandy Alcantara for $56 million over five years and an option through 2027.
Alcantara is a Cy Young favorite and his four complete games are more than most teams. Hat tip to former Marlins general manager Michael Hill, who acquired Alcantara, Zach Gallon, Daniel Castano and Magnuris Sierra for Marcell Ozuna.
- The Astros signed Justin Verlander for $25 million and a player option for 2022.
The move would have been even higher had the Astros stuck with their original two-year deal, modified when team doctors thought they saw something. Now, Cy Young’s favorite will surely exercise that option.
Honorable mentions: Cardinals sign Albert Pujols for $2.5M; White Sox sign Johnny Cueto to minors deal; Mets hire Buck Showalter; The Dodgers signed Tyler Anderson for $8M and re-signed Clayton Kershaw for $17M; The Yankees acquired Jose Trevino in a trade with Texas and signed Rangers reliever Matt Carpenter for $2M; Rangers sign Martin Perez for $4M; Advertisements for the Orioles, Mariners, and Royals, Adele Ratshman, Julio Rodriguez, and Bobby Witt Jr., respectively.