Giants reward SS Crawford with new 2-year, $32 million deal

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SAN FRANCISCO – Brandon Crawford has never imagined playing anywhere else than for his boyhood favorite team the Giants.

The All-Star shortstop is being rewarded for one of his best seasons yet, agreeing to a new two-year contract that takes him through the 2023 season and the probable conclusion of his career with San Francisco.

“This is the only organization we’ve ever known and they’ve always taken such good care of me and my family,” Crawford said in the dugout before having a night off from starting in the second game of a four-game weekend set with the Rockies. “We’re just happy to know that we’re going to be here for a couple more years.”

The Giants announced the $32 million deal Friday that will pay the 34-year-old shortstop $16 million in base salary in both 2022 and ’23.

“I think you see it on a day in, day out basis how important he’s been to our team in the lineup, out on the field, not just his own defense but how he elevates the entire infield with just his consistency and excellent play,” said Farhan Zaidi, Giants president of baseball operations. “It’s hard to imagine anybody else playing shortstop for the San Francisco Giants.”

Crawford is in the final season of a $75 million, six-year contract signed in November 2015. He is earning $15 million this season.

“I’m 34. Playing `til I’m 36 sounds pretty good to me,” he said.

Crawford’s reliable play in the infield and his offense are big reasons the Giants have the best record in the majors and lead the talented NL West in a year they have surprised the reigning World Series champion Dodgers and San Diego.

Crawford is batting a career-best .296 with 19 home runs, 21 doubles, a triple and 69 RBIs. He earned his third All-Star selection this summer and is a three-time Gold Glove recipient.

This is his 11th season with San Francisco and Crawford was part of the 2012 and ’14 World Series championship teams. He won Gold Gloves from 2015-17 and a Silver Slugger award in 2015.

He grew up in the Bay Area cheering for the Giants and became the franchise leader in games played at shortstop on June 8. He’s appeared in 1,400 games with San Francisco, 11th on the franchise list. He could crack the Top 5 by the end of the contract, which would leave him trailing only Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds.

“As a kid I always dreamed of wearing the Giants uniform and never really thought about playing anywhere else,” Crawford said. “There are definitely times where it’s hard to believe that I’ve lasted this long here with the Giants.”

Alongside fellow veterans Brandon Belt and Buster Posey, the Giants veterans have revived their careers during this successful year – and proven some people wrong in the process.

“I’m proud of all of us, being able to kind of bounce back from a few tough seasons and come back out here and perform the way we have, and I think a lot of that has to do with the coaching staff,” Crawford said. “Whether it’s giving us days off to keep us healthy or mechanical changes, approach changes that we’ve made over the last couple years. I’m happy for all of us and hopefully we can keep it going and win some more games.”

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.