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Aaron Judge and Yankees agree to $19 million deal, avoiding arbitration hearing

Aaron Judge is in the midst of perhaps his best season, batting .304 with a major league-leading 27 homers and 53 RBIs in 68 games.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Aaron Judge and the Yankees avoided an arbitration hearing Friday by agreeing to a $19 million, one-year contract, a deal that leaves the slugger on track to become a free agent after the World Series.

Unable to agree to a long-term deal in talks that ended on Opening Day, the sides split the difference between the proposed arbitration figures they exchanged March 22: $21 million by Judge and $17 million by the Yankees.

Judge can make an additional $500,000 in award bonuses: $250,000 for MVP and $250,000 for World Series MVP.

The slugging outfielder is in the midst of perhaps his best season, batting .304 with a major league-leading 27 homers and 53 RBIs in 68 games. On track for his fourth All-Star selection in seven big league seasons, he hit a game-winning single during Thursday night's 7-6 come-from-behind victory over defending AL champion Houston.

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Judge has helped power the Yankees to a major league-best 52-18 record, New York’s best mark through 70 games since 1939 and the best among all big league teams since the 2001 Seattle Mariners. He also has shifted from right field to become the Yankees’ primary center fielder.

A deal came together before the scheduled noon start of a Zoom hearing before a three-person panel.