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Steinbrenner met with Judge, and said “we have a good thing”

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by RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner held a one-on-one meeting with Aaron Judge to make sure the free agent star knew how much New York wanted him back.
“I think he wants to be a Yankee. I think we got a good thing here,” Steinbrenner said Tuesday during a 30-minute question-and-answer session with reporters at the Major League Baseball owners’ meeting.
Judge turned down an offer from the Yankees before Opening Day that was supposed to be worth $213.5 million from 2023-29. Steinbrenner said he accepted general manager Brian Cashman’s announcement of the offer because he believed it would leak.
Other commitments will not constrain the Yankees, Steinbrenner says, in talks with the judge.
“We know where we are,” he said, “and I can tell you this isn’t going to stop us.”
Judge set an American League record with 62 homers and tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs. A potential AL MVP, he has said his preference is to stay with the Yankees.
Steinbrenner met alone with Judge and was involved in two or three more meetings with the right-hander that included others.
“I wanted him to know how I felt in case of any—what word am I looking for?—in case there was any lack of clarity on his part—ambiguity,” Steinbrenner said.
Steinbrenner spoke before it became known that first baseman Anthony Rizzo had agreed to a $40 million, two-year deal to stay with the Yankees.
In other news, he said:
– Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza will get the opportunity to earn inside jobs during spring training.
– Cashman’s new contract is “just semantics at this point. I told him I wanted him back,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s only a matter of salary.”
Judge could become Yankees captain if he stayed in the Bronx. Steinbrenner said he envisions Judge being another in the line of all-time Yankees greats, such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Derek Jeter.
“People are drawn to him. Young players are drawn to him. And obviously our fans are very important to our fans and our fan base and very important to my family and to the organization,” said Steinbrenner. “I just conveyed that I want him to be a Yankee for the rest of his life. No doubt about that. Because he knows that. The rest is up to him and his family and where they want to go from here. But we’ll do what we can, I can assure you.”
While there is no set timetable for the talks, other negotiations will have an impact.
“I will not and cannot be in a position to see players start to come off the board, deals start to come in,” Steinbrenner said. “And he understands that.”
New York hasn’t reached a World Series since winning the 2009 title, and Steinbrenner admitted fans were frustrated with the Houston Astros’ four-game sweep in the AL Championship Series.
“We’re not proud of it and we’re not happy with it,” Steinbrenner said.
He said the team has addressed players who haven’t slogged at times, such as when Glieber Torres failed to run out balls and Josh Donaldson thought a drive down the right line was a home run only to be sacked against Cleveland in the split series.
“The Yankees’ fanbase expects the Yankees to act a certain way, and I’m sure that upsets them, when something like that happens,” Steinbrenner said. “It was processed right away, me, Aaron Boone and Cashman if I had to get involved.”
New York made an effort to improve the defense last offseason, and while it was noticeably sharper, Steinbrenner admitted “in the postseason it wasn’t quite as good as I would have liked to see.”
As the judge’s interest increased, the Yankees drew 3.1 million fans, down from 3.3 million last season before COVID-19.
“We really got back to those 19 levels, which I think is a great achievement,” Steinbrenner said. “But the season tickets are still in question, whether people are still worried about COVID.”
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AP MLB: and

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