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New York Yankees team owner Hal Steinbrenner has defended the extension offer made to Aaron Judge at the start of the 2022 season, which the slugger declined.

The judge declined an eight-year contract worth $230.5 million to $234.5 million and reportedly sought a nine-year deal worth around $319.6 million. The judge set an arbitrary deadline for opening day – April 8 – and said he would not discuss the contract until after the season.

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Since then, Judge has been on an absolute tear increasing his value. Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he led the majors in home runs (29) and runs scored (64) with the All-Star break looming. He was on a beat rivaling Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner stops to speak to the media before attending a Major League Baseball executive committee meeting on May 18, 2016 in New York City.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Steinbrenner, speaking to reporters, said he understood the outfielder’s value.

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“Aaron is a great Yankee, and he’s very valuable to this organization. He’s a great leader. Obviously, he’s done extremely well this year, which we’re all thrilled about. So look, any great Yankee, yeah, that’s something we’ll be watching and talking seriously about. It means a lot to the organization. Nobody’s going to deny that,” Steinbrenner said.

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hits a brace in the sixth inning in baseball's first game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians, Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Cleveland.

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hits a brace in the sixth inning in baseball’s first game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians, Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Cleveland.
(AP Photo/David Dermer)

“We made an offer which I thought was very good. It was based on the numbers, of course, but it was also based in part on what he meant to this organization. It was a combination of the two And we’ve only done We’ve had less time, of course, this offseason than we normally would because of the lockout and all. But there’s no regrets. We’re going to have discussions. at one point.

The judge agreed to a one-year contract to avoid arbitration.

He was one of the main reasons the Yankees are the best team in the league with a 58-23 record.

New York Yankees Judge Aaron, second from right, stands in the dugout during the second inning of the team's baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The Pirates won 5-2.

New York Yankees Judge Aaron, second from right, stands in the dugout during the second inning of the team’s baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The Pirates won 5-2.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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Steinbrenner identified the Houston Astros as a big contender for American League supremacy and wouldn’t mind playing the New York Mets for a second Subway World Series.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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