Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Yankees agree to 1-year, $6 million deal

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NEW YORK — Infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa and the New York Yankees agreed Friday to a one-year, $6 million contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Kiner-Falefa got a $1.3 million raise under the deal, which was struck as the evening deadline approached for teams to offer 2023 contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters.

New York also claimed right-hander Junior Fernandez off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kiner-Falefa was acquired by the Yankees after the lockout and hit .261 with four homers and 22 stolen bases. He tied for sixth among major league shortstops with 10 defensive runs saved but made 15 errors.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone benched Kiner-Falefa for Game 4 of the Division Series against Cleveland. Kiner-Falefa committed an error in Game 1 and looked shaky on routine plays.

“I feel that in some big pressure spots throughout the season he has made big-time plays,” Boone said. “So he’s always answered the bell really well after a mistake. This time I feel like it snowballed a little bit on him in this series, so that’s kind of going into this.”

In the fourth game of the AL Championship Series against Houston, rookie Jeremy Pena hit what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball to Gleyber Torres in the seventh. But his flip to second base went wide of Kiner-Falefa, setting up Houston’s two-run inning that sent the Astros on to a four-game sweep.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said Tuesday that Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza will be given a chance to earn infield jobs during spring training.

Kiner-Falefa will be eligible for free agency after the World Series.

He spent his first four major league seasons with Texas, was traded to Minnesota on March 12 with right-hander Ronny Henriquez for catcher Mitch Garver, then dealt to the Yankees the following day with third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Ben Rortvedt to the Yankees for catcher Gary Sanchez and infielder Gio Urshela.

Fernandez, 25, had a 2.41 ERA in 15 relief appearances for St. Louis and Pittsburgh, striking out 14 and walking 12 in 18 2/3 innings while allowing eight hits – three of them homers. He was 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA it 41 games at Triple-A Memphis and Indianapolis. Fernandez is 1-1 with a 5.16 ERA in 50 relief appearances over four seasons with the Cardinals (2019-22) and Pirates.

Source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because the deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself — and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.