The home run ball hit by New York Yankees star Aaron Judge to set the new American League record this season sold for $1.5million on Saturday via collectables marketplace Goldin.

Judge hit his 62nd home run on October 4 at Texas to break a tie with former Yankee Roger Maris, who hit 61 homers in 1961.

Cory Youmans caught Judge’s 62nd home run in the left field seats at Globe Life Field in Arlington, and turned down a $3million offer before deciding to put the ball up for auction.

The ball is the second-most expensive sold at auction behind the $3.05million paid by comic book artist Todd McFarlane for Mark McGwire’s 70th homer in 1998 when he was with the St Louis Cardinals.

"Multiple players have hit more home runs in a season, but in many people's eyes, Aaron Judge is the true record-holder," Ken Goldin, the executive chairman and founder of Goldin, told ESPN.

"The fact that this is the second-highest total ever paid for a baseball speaks to the respect that fans and collectors have for Aaron.

"That's the magic of sports – this ball didn't only change Aaron's life, it changed the life of the fan who was in the stadium that night, too.

"We're so proud to have been trusted by Cory to present this piece of history for public auction."

Judge was named the American League Most Valuable Player after batting .311 with 62 homers and 131 RBIs in 157 games.

He agreed to a nine-year, $360million contract with the Yankees earlier this month, making Judge the highest-paid position player in Major League Baseball history at $40million per season.

The Chicago Cubs took the last star shortstop off the free-agent market on Saturday, agreeing to a 7-year, $177 million contract with Dansby Swanson, sources told ESPN.

The deal, which is pending a physical, includes a full no-trade clause, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

Swanson was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, but he was traded to Atlanta in a multiplayer deal that December.

He spent each of his seven MLB seasons with the Braves, helping them to a World Series championship in 2021 after batting .248 with 27 home runs and 88 RBIs.

He followed that by hitting .277 last season with 25 homers and a career-best 96 RBIs in 162 games. Swanson made the NL All-Star team for the first time and won his first Gold Glove.

The Cubs became the latest team to snag a high-priced shortstop following the San Francisco Giants (Carlos Correa, $350 million), Philadelphia Phillies (Trea Turner, $300 million) and San Diego Padres (Xander Bogaerts, $280 million).

With Swanson added, the Cubs likely will move Nico Hoerner from shortstop to second base.

Chicago finished third in the NL Central last season but did go 40-31 in its final 71 games. Besides Swanson, the Cubs signed 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger to a one-year contract and added right-hander Jameson Taillon on a four-year, $68 million deal.

Swanson is a career .255 hitter with 102 homers and 411 RBIs in 827 career games.

He got married last weekend to Mallory Pugh, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars, the women’s professional soccer team.

The Chicago White Sox made a big move in the free-agent market Friday, signing All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi to a $75million, five-year contract.

The deal will be the largest contract ever given by the White Sox once it becomes official, surpassing the $73m Chicago gave to catcher Yasmani Grandal in 2019.

Benintendi finished last season with the New York Yankees after he was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on July 27.

After batting .320 in 93 games with the Royals, Benintendi slumped to a .254 mark in 33 games for the Yankees before his season was cut short in early September by a broken right wrist. He finished the season with a career-best batting average of .304.

The left-handed hitting Benintendi was a first-time All-Star for Kansas City before he was traded, following a 2021 season where he batted .276 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs in 134 games and also won a Gold Glove.

Benintendi, 28, broke into the majors with Boston in 2016 and spent five seasons with the Red Sox, helping them win a World Series championship in 2018.

The White Sox are coming off a disappointing 81-81 record in 2022 after entering the season with high expectations. They were coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and won the AL Central by 13 games in 2021.

Benintendi will be reunited with new White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, who was a coach in Kansas City.

The New York Yankees have added a key piece to their rotation by agreeing with left-handed free agent Carlos Rodon on a six-year, $162million contract.

The move bolsters the Yankees' starting rotation, which already had Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino – along with a variety of other depth options.

Rodon, 30, was named an All-Star in each of the past two seasons and played last year for the San Francisco Giants. He opted out of his deal with the Giants – which would have paid him $22.5m in 2023 – and declined the $19.65m qualifying offer a few days later to become a free agent.

Rodon played seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox, the first six of which were marred by inconsistency and injury. Rodon broke out in 2021, his final year on the South Side.

Over the past two seasons with Chicago and San Francisco, Rodon has amassed a 27-13 record with a 2.67 ERA, averaging 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Rodon has a career 3.60 ERA and 56-46 record in 147 starts.

The Yankees are hoping that Rodon can help them improve on a 2022 season that produced a 99-63 record and an American League East title, but ended in the ALCS against the Houston Astros.

With the exception of Rodon, the Yankees plan on fielding largely the same team that fell just short of the World Series last season, with most of this offseason’s attention going toward retaining AL MVP and home run champion Aaron Judge for nine years and $360m.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have reached an agreement on a one-year contract with All-Star pitcher Noah Syndergaard, according to ESPN.

The 30-year-old starting pitcher, who was an All-Star in 2016 during his brilliant first stint with the New York Mets, played for both the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies in 2022. He featured in this year's World Series for the Phillies.

The move sees Syndergaard chasing a midcareer renaissance, having stalled following Tommy John surgery in 2020, before a positive return this year.

Syndergaard threw 134-and-a-two-third innings between the two teams in 2022, his most since 2019, and recorded a 3.94 ERA.

The right-hander will join the Dodgers' rotation with All-Stars Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin.

The Dodgers finished as NL West champions in 2022 with a 111-51 record but bowed out to the San Diego Padres in the NLDS.

The San Francisco Giants have secured their franchise shortstop with the signing of former Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins star Carlos Correa to a 13-year, $350million contract in free agency.

Correa, 28, spent the first seven years of his career with the Astros, earning Rookie of the Year, two All-Star selections, a Platinum Glove and the 2017 World Series title.

He became a free agent prior to the 2022 season, signing a three-year, $105m deal with the Minnesota Twins, but exercised his right to opt out after just one year following a 78-84 campaign, missing the playoffs.

Correa was not to blame for the Twins' struggles, posting the second-best batting average of his career (.291) while playing his third-most games in a season (136), resulting in the largest shortstop contract in MLB history.

The Giants were considered the only side other than the New York Yankees with a realistic chance of landing reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge in free agency, but with his decision to return to New York, they had some money set aside to spend.

Likely joining Correa in San Francisco's opening day line-up will be former Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger, who inked a three-year, $43.5m free agent deal earlier in the process.

Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy has leapt to the defence of his franchise amid fan backlash in response to their offseason activity.

The Red Sox failed to retain homegrown star Xander Bogaerts, who led the side for batting average (.307) and hits (171) in 2022, as he exited for the San Diego Padres last week on an 11-year, $280million contract in free agency.

Bogaerts' exit came after Boston, who were World Series champions in 2018, finished last in the AL East with a 78-84 record in the 2022 season.

Three years ago, the Red Sox traded away AL MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers with a view to financial flexibility, meaning Bogaerts' free agency departure has caused fan tumult.

"I would put our organisation and our track record up against anybody else's in Major League Baseball, period," Kennedy told reporters.

"We're going to continue to field a team, a complete roster that is going to be competitive in the American League East. That's our job.

"We have to do that and I know our fans will support us if we do that."

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom added that he was not surprised by the fans' reaction.

"Fully expected it. Fully expected it," he said. "That has not been a surprise. Honestly, I would have been surprised if that had not been the case."

Bloom also tried to explain the decision on Bogaerts, who they reportedly offered a six-year, $160m deal at the start of the season.

"Well first of all, good for Xander. He earned every bit of that," Bloom said. "Everybody here has seen it and it's just part of what free agency is about. He will be nothing but loved here forever. So that's number one.

"The rest of it, there's a lot of emotions. You can feel that you're making a sound baseball and business decision and still feel torn up by it. It's wonderful when those business decisions line up with things that are gonna make us happy and can make everybody happy. This one didn't.

"But we still have a responsibility to make those decisions. We know that this is going to leave a mark for everybody in this organization and everybody who loves this organization. We understand that and we've got to get back to going out there and winning."

Center-fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the New York Mets after agreeing to an eight-year, $162million contract extension.

After the New York Yankees retained American League home run champion Aaron Judge, Nimmo had been widely considered the best remaining outfielder in free agency.

Nimmo, 29, has become a staple in the Mets' outfield, starting 148 games in center field last season while batting .274 with 16 home runs, 30 doubles and seven triples.

His 159 hits, 102 runs scored and 64 RBI in 2022 were all personal bests, while he sports a career average of .269 with an .827 OPS.

Coming off a 101-win season, the Mets have already had an offseason full of blockbuster deals.

Ace Jacob deGrom left the Mets to join the Texas Rangers on a deal that could be up to six years and $222m, while Taijuan Walker is headed to the rival Philadelphia Phillies for $72m over four years.

The Mets responded by filling those holes in the rotation with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana on two-year deals.

In the bullpen, the Mets retained star closer Edwin Diaz on a five-year, $102m contract, and reliever David Robertson will return on a one-year, $10m deal.

Jacob deGrom has not tallied more than 15 starts in any of his past three seasons for the New York Mets, but the new Texas Rangers signing is aiming for double that figure in his first campaign down south.

DeGrom, 34, won back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019, starting 32 games in each season, but a string of injuries have restricted the former Rookie of the Year to a combined 38 starts since the beginning of 2020.

He did not make his debut this year until after the All-Star break, but looked like his dominant self once again, striking out 14.3 batters per nine innings. DeGrom did not reach enough innings to qualify for the league-leaders, but his figure was well clear of Carlos Rodon's league-leading 12.0.

While his health was at the centre of the Mets' reluctance to match the Rangers' five-year, $185million offer, deGrom told reporters on Thursday during his first interview with his new team that he is not planning on easing into things.

"The goal is to make 30-plus starts, and I truly believe that I will be able to do that," he said.

"Last year's was a weird injury, but finished the year strong, and the goal's to go out there and take the ball every fifth day for the Texas Rangers."

He also talked about how he appreciated the Rangers' approach to his free agency.

"The Rangers did a great job with constant communication and making me feel like they really wanted me here," he said. "The vision was the same: build something great, and win year in and year out.

"They showed a ton of interest right at the start, and the feelings were mutual. I want to play this game for a long time, and I want to win."

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was thrilled to land the top starter on the free agent market, while further rebuilding his rotation with former Dodgers left-hander Andrew Heaney.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "To win in our game, you need pitching.

"We couldn't have a better guy to head up this rotation. We've added to the rotation. So don't tell me we can't win... we're a much better club right now than just a few weeks ago."

The Rangers' heavy investment in their pitching staff comes a year after they handed shortstop Corey Seager a 10-year, $325m free agent contract, pairing him with second-baseman Marcus Semien on a seven-year, $175m deal.

After the Washington Nationals selected right-hander Thad Ward from the Boston Red Sox with the top pick in the Rule 5 draft, the Philadelphia Phillies turned heads by taking pitcher Noah Song, who has spent the past three years in active military service.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round out of the Naval Academy in 2019 and hoped the right-hander would be able to get out of his military commitment, but that hasn’t happened.

Song has remained on the military reserve list, where the Phillies will keep him, so he won’t take up a spot on the 40-man roster.

“There’s some uncertainty surrounding the pick for sure,” Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said. “But we feel like the upside of the player is enough to take a chance.”

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation's military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song's request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

The 25-year-old impressed in seven starts and 17 innings for Boston’s Class Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. That came after he was 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings as a senior for the U.S. Naval Academy.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Of the 15 players selected in the major league phase of the draft, three each were taken from the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Besides Ward and Song, Boston also lost pitcher Andrew Politi to the Baltimore Orioles.

The Oakland Athletics took first baseman Ryan Noda second overall from the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Pirates grabbed left-hander Jose Hernandez and the Milwaukee Brewers nabbed right-hander Gus Varland, also from the Dodgers.

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract with Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

Yoshida, who is a four-time Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) All-Star, joined the Red Sox the day after he was posted by his Japanese team, the Orix Buffaloes, making him available to MLB franchises.

The Buffaloes are the reigning Japanese champions with Yoshida hitting .335/.441/.561 with 21 home runs, 80 walks and only 41 strikeouts from 508 plate appearances.

The Red Sox will also pay an additional $15.4m posting fee to the Buffaloes, rounding out the bumper deal at $105.4m.

Boston also agreed to a two-year, $32 million contract with former Atlanta Braves closer Kenley Jansen on Wednesday to add depth to their bullpen.

The Red Sox finished bottom of the AL East division with a 78-84 record in 2022.

Aaron Judge has reportedly agreed a nine-year, $360million deal to stay with the New York Yankees.

The contract surpasses the $330m deal signed by Bryce Harper with the Philadelphia Phillies, making it the largest free-agent agreement in MLB history.

The slugger, who last season broke the American League record for home runs in a single season with 62, was the top prize on the market in MLB this offseason.

Chatter at MLB's winter meetings had indicated on Tuesday that Judge could be headed to the San Francisco Giants.

Judge was born in Northern California in Sacramento and grew up a Giants fan.

However, the four-time All-Star has eschewed the chance to play for his boyhood team and will now instead remain in the Bronx.

MLB Network's Jon Morosi and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal each reported the terms of the deal, which is pending a physical.

A first-round pick of the Yankees in 2013, Judge has 220 home runs since making his MLB debut in 2016.

Only Nolan Arenado (229) has more home runs in that span.

His incredible efforts last season propelled the Yankees to a 99-63 record, the second-best in the American League.

However, they were swept by the team with the league's best record, the Houston Astros (106-56), in the ALCS. The Astros went on to beat the Phillies in the World Series.

The Philadelphia Phillies added a former All-Star to their starting pitching rotation on Tuesday when Taijuan Walker signed on the dotted line for a four-year, $72million free agent contract.

Walker, 30, spent the past two seasons with the New York Mets, earning an All-Star selection in 2021, before improving his numbers this year.

The former Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks starter tailed off badly in his All-Star season, going on to post an ERA of 4.47 in his 29 starts, but rebounded strongly.

This year he boasted an ERA of 3.49 in 29 starts, while his 2.6 walks-per-nine-innings was his best figure since 2016. His 15 home runs allowed were also his lowest of any season he has pitched at least 100 innings.

Walker will join a rotation already featuring 2021 NL Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Wheeler, as well as this season's fourth place for the award Aaron Nola, giving the reigning NL champions one of the strongest units in the majors.

Mitch Haniger has been scooped up by the San Francisco Giants in free agency, signing a three-year, $43.5million contract as he bids farewell to the Seattle Mariners.

Haniger, who turns 32 later this month, finished fifth in the American League for home runs in the 2021 season, blasting a career-high 39 with 100 RBIs in 157 games.

He battled a series of injuries this year and could only suit up for 57 games – a recurring theme in his career, including a lengthy absence after a ruptured testicle in 2019 – but he got healthy just in time to help the Mariners reach their first postseason since 2001.

The Giants are also a leading candidate to land the top outfielder in this year's free agent market, Aaron Judge, and according to ESPN's Jeff Passan their decision to sign Haniger will have no impact on those negotiations.

Haniger hit 31 home runs in the 2022 season, batting at .246/.308/.737 across 224 at-bats for the Mariners, who ended their 21-year postseason drought.

The Chicago Cubs landed 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger on Tuesday, signing him to a one-year, $17.5million free agent contract.

Bellinger, 27, has spent his entire six-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, highlighted by a remarkable 2019 campaign where he slashed .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs and 115 RBIs.

All of those figures were career-highs, and while he remains a Gold Glove-calibre centre-fielder, his offensive production has cratered over the past two seasons.

Bellinger hit just .165 in 315 at-bats in 2021, and showed only slight improvement this year to hit .210 in 504 at-bats. He also hit more home runs in his MVP season than the past three combined (41).

At his age, Bellinger has plenty of time to turn things around, and he has decided a change of scenery could be what is needed, heading to a Cubs team that has not won a playoff series since 2017.

The one-year deal is an opportunity for Bellinger to prove he can still be an elite hitter, and Cubs manager David Ross said he feels his combination of skills makes it a risk worth taking.

"He's a really good fit from a perspective of [his] great defense, great base running, left-handed bat with the potential to have an uptick offensively," he said.

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