Judge looms; Verlander, Turner deals heat up winter meetings

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Justin Verlander is going to the New York Mets. Trea Turner has agreed to a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. There are three more high-profile shortstops in free agency, along with ace pitcher Carlos Rodón.

And one big slugger looms above the whole market.

Baseball's first winter meetings since 2019 kicked into high gear Monday when Verlander agreed to an $86.7 million, two-year deal with New York, and Turner joined Philadelphia for a $300 million, 11-year contract. Clayton Kershaw also returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a $20 million, one-year deal.

The biggest outstanding question at the end of an impactful day at a downtown San Diego hotel centered on the status of AL MVP Aaron Judge, who was all the way across the country at the NFL's “Monday Night Football” game at Tampa Bay — right across the street from the Yankees' spring training complex.

Judge is a free agent after setting an American League record with 62 homers, 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.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, fresh off getting a new four-year contract, said he spoke with Judge's agent on Monday.

“We are in active conversations,” Cashman said. “Certainly we'd love to land the plane favorably here in New York in the Bronx. But we're not flying the plane. And so we'll wait, we'll wait for this process to play out.”

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Follow Jay Cohen at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

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Jay Cohen, The Associated Press