February 8, 2023

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The Sports Fanatics

Aaron Judge contract: Where Yankees slugger ranks in highest average annual value among other sports stars

Aaron Judge’s decision to bet on himself paid off on Wednesday as the reigning AL MVP agreed to a new nine-year, $360 million deal to re-sign with the New York Yankees through 2031. Judge’s new deal, which was earned in part by an MVP season that featured him setting a new AL single-season record for home runs with 62, makes him among both the richest players in baseball and the richest players in America’s four major professional sports leagues altogether.

Aaron Judge’s new contract has an average annual value of $40 million, which now ranks second in Major League Baseball only to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander of the New York Mets. In baseball terms, Judge’s AAV is already significant. It breaks the league record for AAV of a position player, surpassing Mike Trout’s mark of $35 million — but it also carries great weight across America’s four major professional sports leagues.

Below is how Judge’s new deal looks compared to other top-paid athletes outside of MLB. However, it’s worth noting some differences among how certain league contracts are structured. Many NFL contracts are not paid with the total salary divided by the number of years on the deal and, unless specifically outlined, contracts in the NFL are not fully guaranteed as they are for the vast majority of MLB, NHL and NBA players.

Also, in the NBA, max-level and supermax contracts come with annual raises over the course of the deal, so while Devin Booker’s supermax extension carries an AAV of $56 million, he’ll spend half of the four-year extension making less than that and the latter half making more than that number.  

Biggest yearly NFL contracts

In NFL terms, Judge’s AAV would rank eighth among current pro football contracts, with his $40 million tying that of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.  Here’s the full top 10:

  1. Aaron Rodgers, $50.3 million
  2. Russell Wilson, $49 million
  3. Kyler Murray, $46.1 million
  4. Deshaun Watson, $46 million
  5. Patrick Mahomes, $45 million
  6. Josh Allen, $43 million
  7. Derek Carr, $40.5 million
  8. Dak Prescott, $40 million
  9. Matthew Stafford, $40 million
  10. Kirk Cousins, $35 million

Biggest yearly NBA contracts

In the NBA, Judge’s contract would only rank 20th in AAV between Rudy Gobert’s $41 million and Ja Morant’s $38.9 million. Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves are tied for the richest AAV in basketball on their upcoming extensions at $56 million. Here’s the top 10:

  1. Devin Booker, $56 million (Supermax extension, begins in 2024-25 season)
  2. Karl Anthony-Towns, $56 million (Supermax extension, begins in 2024-25 season)
  3. Nikola Jokic, $54.4 million (Supermax extension, begins in 2023-24 season)
  4. Steph Curry, $53.8 million
  5. Joel Embiid, $52.5 million (Supermax extension, begins in 2023-24 season)
  6. Bradley Beal, $50.2 million
  7. Jimmy Butler, $48.8 million (Max extension, begins in 2023-24 season)
  8. LeBron James, $48.5 million (Max extension, begins in 2023-24 season)
  9. Kevin Durant, $48.5 million
  10. Giannis Atentokounmpo, $45.6 million

Biggest yearly NHL contracts

While Judge’s contract only ranks just inside the top 20 of NBA contract AAV, it well outpaces the average annual value of contracts in the NHL. As it stands, Nathan MacKinnon’s AAV of $12.6 million is the richest in all of professional hockey, a number which lags far behind the MLB, NFL, and NBA. Here’s the NHL’s top 10:

  1. Nathan MacKinnon, $12.6 million
  2. Connor McDavid, $12.5 million
  3. Artemi Panarin, $11.6 million
  4. Auston Matthews, $11.6 million
  5. Erik Karlsson, $11.5 million
  6. Drew Doughty, $11 million
  7. John Tavares, $11 million
  8. Mitchell Marner, $10.9 million
  9. Patrick Kane, $10.5 million
  10. Jonathan Toews, $10.5 million

The greatest takeaway from his contract extension is the way in which the Yankees star gambled and won after rejecting a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension offered in spring training. Judge will now make an additional $146.5 million while also having two extra years on his deal to remain in Pinstripes.