How Rays Nearly Broke AL East With Offer To Superstar Slugger

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The New York Yankees developed a superstar in their current captain Aaron Judge and paid him accordingly when he hit free agency after the 2022 season.

Judge certainly had other suitors that winter. The San Diego Padres were ready to pay up as were the San Francisco Giants.

Actually, sorry. That was for Arson Judge.

Those teams made sense, though new details from Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times revealed a fairly competitive offer from an American League East rival of the Yankees.

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That would be the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays exemplify a small market team – rarely spending money with limited funds and often having to rely on exceptional player development to build a roster to compete with big market clubs like the Yankees.

That’s what makes Ackert’s report of the Rays offering Judge a 10-year, $300 million deal in free agency rather shocking. The Rays were going to be able to shell out that kind of cash?

Instead, Judge re-signed with the Yankees on a nine-year deal worth $360 million, cashing in on a massive contract year when he set the American League single-season record with 62 home runs.

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The AL East remains arguably the most competitive division in baseball, though this alternate universe with Judge joining the Rays would have more than shaken up the landscape.

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