SAN DIEGO -- Once again, the Giants were left without a rose.
Another high-profile free-agent pursuit fell short Wednesday when Aaron Judge reportedly decided to return to the New York Yankees. MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Wednesday, citing sources, that Judge agreed to a contract with the Yankees. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the deal was for nine years and worth $360 million.
Judge seemed like the perfect potential addition at the perfect time for a Giants franchise that needs a lineup boost, but also a face of the franchise. But the Giants always knew that there was a strong possibility they would again finish second for a player who grew up in Northern California but has become a superstar in New York.
Judge was the American League MVP in 2022 and the Yankees, the most storied franchise in the sport, made it clear after the season ended that their first priority was bringing Judge back, making an early offer and then waiting as he tested the open market for the first time.
The Giants took advantage of the Thanksgiving break to take their best shot at Judge. They flew him home, giving him a tour of the ballpark and San Francisco area during a two-day recruiting visit the week of Thanksgiving. The Giants put a full-court press on, even having Steph Curry reach out, but they started to worry when a video appeared on MLB Network of Judge walking into a downtown San Francisco hotel. Some within the organization wondered if the video was meant to turn up the heat on the Yankees, and a couple weeks later, he ended up back with his original team.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are now left to pivot to Plan B, which likely will include a strong run at Carlos Correa, an All-Star shortstop who could slide into the heart of their order and bolster what was the worst defense in baseball in 2022.
The Giants have walked two paths since the season ended. Judge has been an organizational priority, but they now will focus on another plan, one built around fixing the defense up the middle -- they also have interest in center fielder Brandon Nimmo -- and adding to their rotation.
Throughout every media session this offseason, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has talked of the need to get more athletic and better defensively up the middle. The pursuit of Judge overshadowed that effort over the past month, but the Giants now will pivot to fixing other holes on the roster, and perhaps they will shelve their chase for a franchise-altering superstar for another 12 months or so.
While the American League MVP is headed back to New York, the player who finished second in that race, one the Giants chased five years ago, will soon be available. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to become a free agent after the upcoming season.