Aaron Judge Yankees Oct 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) flies out during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the ALCS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The free agency saga starring Aaron Judge this offseason had the reigning American League MVP taking a trip to San Francisco with the possibility of him sporting orange and black for the remainder of his career.

A nine-year, $360 million contract had him returning to the New York Yankees. An offer he couldn’t refuse.

It was destined for his Bronx return, but Judge wanted to see how the market would play out without the official signing. At least for a bit.

“I think I’d kick myself down the road if I just didn’t go through the process, just check out the process, see what other teams had to offer,” Judge said on Mookie Betts’ new Bleacher Report show, ‘On Base.’ “I got to meet a lot of great coaches, a lot of great front offices, other players with other teams, and just kind of see how they ran things, what their mindset was.”

The meeting with the Giants ultimately upped the ante for the Yankees, but Betts said his heart sank a little knowing they wouldn’t be National League West rivals.

“You didn’t want to see me?” Judge questioned.

“I want to see you, but I don’t want to see you in right field [for the Giants],” Betts said. [I was thinking], the Giants, it’s already a rivalry, and now they’re going to be so good, what you were going to add to that team, so I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’”

Imagine that rivalry with Judge thrown into the mix. Wow.

It almost happened, and the news broke to back it up.

Well, sorta.

In December, in the midst of the Winter Meetings in San Diego, Calif., MLB insider Jon Heyman tweeted Aaron Judge was heading to the Giants, but a typo spelled him out to be “Arson Judge.”

Naturally, Twitter had a field day with it, and yes, Judge himself talked about the tweet on Betts’ podcast.

“Yeah, I think my name changed a little bit,” Judge said.

“Arson — what was that?” Betts asked.

“You know I was on a flight and my agent text me and said, ‘Bro, stuff’s going down in San Diego right now.’ “Yeah, Arson Judge — I still haven’t seen his stats yet with the Giants. But it was funny, that kind of blew up a little bit — started getting text messages from family and friends, and people with the Yankees — kind of what’s going on?”

Judge has earned four All-Star selections and his 18 home runs currently lead the American League. He leads MLB in slugging (.679), OPS (1.088) and OPS+ (195) in 2023. Last season, Judge’s 62 home runs had him surpassing Yankees legend Roger Maris’ American League record that stood for over 60 years.

The Yankees are more than happy their star player returned to the team and will be a staple for hopefully the remainder of his career.

[On Base]

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.