Yankees’ Aaron Judge 1st in majors to 40 home runs

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NEW YORK – Aaron Judge became the first player in the majors with 40 home runs this season with a two-run drive for the New York Yankees against the Kansas City Royals.

The 6-foot-7 Judge robbed a home run from MJ Melendez to begin the game, then hit an estimated 449-foot homer in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. It was his second homer in three at-bats after he hit a game-ending drive in the ninth inning of a 1-0 win against Kansas City on Thursday night.

The four-time All-Star is on pace for 64 home runs in his final season under New York’s control. The club record is 61, set by Roger Maris in 1961. Judge, Maris and Babe Ruth in 1928 are the only Yankees with at least 40 homers by the end of July, per MLB.com.

Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber came into the night second in the majors with 32 homers. Judge hit a career-high 52 homers while winning AL Rookie of the Year in 2017.

In the first inning Friday, the 6-foot-7 Judge jumped and reached over the roughly 8-foot right-field wall to deny Melendez, who put a charge into Gerrit Cole‘s fourth pitch. Judge fell on the warning track after making the grab, and it took him a moment to lift his glove and confirm he’d made the catch. Yankee Stadium erupted when he did.

The leaping snag also extended the Royals’ scoreless streak into a fourth game. They came into Friday with three straight shutouts and hadn’t scored since the eighth inning of a 7-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.