Aaron Judge won the American League MVP Award after a history-making season and returned to the New York Yankees in the offseason as he signed a nine-year, $360 million contract extension.
On Monday, Judge appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and opened up about why he decided to return to the Yankees. The San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox were also rumored to be interested in the slugging outfielder.
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Fallon revealed that Anthony Rizzo and the first baseman’s dog played a role in Judge returning to the team. Rizzo contacted Judge every day and sent pictures of their dogs together in an effort to get the outfielder back in pinstripes.
Judge admitted Rizzo played a “big part” in his free agency decision. Rizzo opted out of his contract with New York only to re-sign with the team. Then, the work began on Judge.
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“He went for my heart,” Judge said of Rizzo. “So, he went for my little Penny.”
Judge was spotted out and about in New York City last month with his pup just before he finalized the new contract and was named captain of the team.
A four-time All-Star in the Bronx, Judge blasted 220 homers and knocked in 497 RBI with a .284/.394/.583 slash line and .977 OPS in 729 Yankees games over the past seven seasons.
He was named the 2022 American League MVP after breaking Roger Maris’ single-season AL home-run record with 62 and was in the Triple Crown conversation until the end of the regular season.
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Judge led the majors in homers, RBI (131), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.686), runs (133) and total bases (391), while his 111 walks topped the AL leaderboard. His .311 batting average was the second-best in the AL and just five points behind the Minnesota Twins’ Luis Arraez.