What’s Happening in Baseball Today

The First Pitch: December 8, 2022

Aaron Judge is staying with the New York Yankees. After chatter from the previous day suggested momentum toward a move with the San Francisco Giants, the 2022 AL MVP decides to return to the Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million contract. The deal will last through his age-39 season, and will immediately make him the first team captain at Yankee Stadium since Derek Jeter retired in 2014

The new package is two years and $150 million more than the extension offered by the Yankees before the start of this past season. Of course, that was an AL-record 62 home runs ago; Judge’s successful pursuit of Roger Maris’ mark, along with a .311 average, 131 RBIs and 111 walks, greatly enhanced his player value. 

The Giants were said to offer a similar deal to that of the Yankees, and the San Diego Padres—aggressive A-list pursuers as they have become in the last few years—reportedly also made a healthy last-gasp effort to land the California native. 

It’s interesting to note: Judge and the Yankees open the 2023 season at New York…against the Giants.

In the wake of Yadier Molina’s retirement from St. Louis, the Cardinals waste no time finding an adequate replacement as they ink former Cubs catcher Willson Contreras for five years and $87.5 million. The 30-year-old Venezuelan native batted .256 with 117 home runs over seven years in Chicago, garnering a World Series ring during his rookie season, and was considered the top free-agent catcher this offseason.

While the Cubs lose Contreras, they pick up former Yankee pitcher Jameson Taillon on a four-year package worth $68 million. The 31-year-old righty had one of his finest years in 2022, producing a 14-5 record, 3.91 ERA and 151 strikeouts over 177.1 innings. He joins a young Chicago staff that impressed in the second half of this past season.

Just a day after announcing his availability to MLB, star Japanese hitter Masataka Yoshida has already found his American home with the Boston Red Sox, who sign him for five years and $90 million. As we mentioned yesterday, the 29-year-old outfielder has had an eyebrow-raising career thus far in Japan, hitting for high averages, wielding good (if not great) power, and this past year had virtually twice as many walks (80) as strikeouts (41).

Boston will also pay an additional $15.8 million posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes, Yoshida’s Japanese employer of seven seasons.

The Red Sox aren’t done on this day; they also sign veteran closer Kenley Jansen for two years and $32 million. The 35-year-old right-hander, in his one year at Atlanta after 12 seasons with the Dodgers, saved an NL-high 41 games and posted a 3.38 ERA; only seven players in MLB history have more saves than his 390.

The Mets add one more arm two days after nabbing Justin Verlander (and after losing Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker), signing veteran Jose Quintana for two years and $26 million. The 33-year-old right-hander appeared to fade out after 2021, but impressively refreshed this past season—posting a 2.95 ERA in 32 starts (in spite of a 6-7 record) split between the Pirates and Cardinals.

The Hall of Fame names Cubs radio voice Pat Hughes as this year’s recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence. Hughes just completed his 40th year in the booth, the last 27 with Chicago; before that, he did play-by-play for Minnesota in 1983 and Milwaukee from 1984-95. He’s the third recipient of the Frick award to have worked most of his career with the Cubs; two other two are the legendary Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray.

It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1941: One day after Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and plunges America into World War II, the American League decides to table a move of the St. Louis Browns to Los Angeles. California will remain without major league representation for another 16 years, when the Dodgers and Giants announce their moves from the New York area. 

1992: The Giants make a choice investment in Bonds—Barry Bonds, the two-time MVP, who bolted Pittsburgh after becoming a free agent. The contract is six years and a then-record-setting $43 million.

2011: Albert Pujols officially ends his productive 10-year stay in St. Louis by inking a whopping 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels.

Shameless Link of the Day

Aaron Judge’s return to the Yankees means he has a good chance to hike his way up our esteemed list of the 10 greatest hitters in Bronx Bomber history. See where he currently stands on the list.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson is 37; 2000s slugger and overpaid Angel Vernon Wells is 44; 13-year outfielder Reed Johnson is 46; Hall-of-Fame pitcher Mike Mussina is 54. Born on this date is shortstop of 1,355 hits Ed Brinkman (1941), Negro League/New York Giants infielder Hank Thompson (1925), St. Louis Browns third baseman/coach Jimmy Austin (1879) and 1880s shortstop/catcher Jack Rowe (1856).

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