Yankees name Aaron Judge 16th captain in franchise history

NEW YORK – There’s a new captain in pinstripes.

The Yankees named Aaron Judge the team’s new captain in a news conference Wednesday announcing his new $360 million, nine-year contract. Judge becomes the 16th captain in team history and the first since Derek Jeter, who held the title from 2003 to 2014.

“It’s hard to imagine the Yankees without Aaron,” said Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner asked Judge to captain the Yankees after the two sides agreed to the deal. The judge said the offer silenced him.

“I was amazed. When you look at this list of people who hold that title, it’s such an honor,” Judge said.

The hitter signed the biggest deal in Yankees history after hitting a record-breaking 62 homers in 2022. Despite competitive offers from the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, Judge ultimately decided to return to the franchise that drafted him in the first round of the 2013 draft.

The judge said he had to consider other teams in free agency, but he didn’t want to leave New York.

“In my heart, I knew where I wanted to be, but this process was a valuable lesson,” Judge said. “It helped me come to a clear answer that I belong in New York.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he first saw Judge’s leadership skills when Boone was an ESPN baseball analyst, noting “the gentleness” in his dealings with people and how others responded to him.

“In a lot of ways it was an obvious choice,” Boone said. “He’s been developing into that over the last couple of seasons. Now that he will wear pinstripes forever, the natural next step is captaincy.”

Steinbrenner met with Judge in Tampa, Fla., early in the offseason and made it clear to the slugger that he wanted him in pinstripes for life. While vacationing in Italy, Steinbrenner called the judge to try to finalize the deal.

“I told him you’re not a free agent, you’re a Yankee,” Steinbrenner said.

As the judge neared a decision on his future, Steinbrenner said he pulled up at the side of a freeway in Italy and called the superstar outfielder, who answered the phone at 3 a.m. local time in California.

“I wanted to know what’s important to him and his family,” said Steinbrenner.

The judge said he wanted to continue building his legacy in New York and the decision to stay was a family decision after consulting with his wife Samantha and parents.

“We made the decision that was in our hearts, which was that we wanted to be in New York,” he said.

The judge was enthusiastic about the team’s other moves this offseason – highlighted by the signing of pitcher Carlos Rodon – and said he believes the team is close to winning a championship.

“There’s a lot of unfinished business here in New York,” Judge said. “I look forward to closing this deal.”

Ultimately, he said he couldn’t imagine playing for any other team.

“My blood, sweat and tears went into playing for this team,” said Judge. “This is family.”

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/35297571/yankees-name-aaron-judge-16th-captain-franchise-history Yankees name Aaron Judge 16th captain in franchise history

Emma Bowman

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