The Yankees and Red Sox have lined up in a rare major trade. The teams announced a deal to send an outfielder Alex Verdugo To the Bronx for the Savior Greg Weissert And minor league pitchers Richard Fitts And Nicholas Giudice.
Verdugo, who turns 28 in May, spent the past four seasons in Boston. The Sox acquired him from the Dodgers as their key piece Mookie Betts Trade return. The left-handed striker never lived up to that lofty billing. Verdugo has settled into a solid starter without becoming an impact player on both sides of the ball.
During his time with the Red Sox, Verdugo hit .281/.338/.424 in just over 2,000 games. His strongest season was the shortened 2020 campaign. After posting a .308/.367/.478 slash, he hit a league-average level for three straight years. Verdugo has a .277/.334/.417 mark since the start of 2021. Last season’s .264/.324/.421 line over 602 plate appearances fits with his recent body of work.
Verdugo does not have typical home run power for a cornerback. He has hit between 11 and 13 long balls in each of the past three years. However, Verdugo has surpassed 30 doubles each season. He has always had excellent batting skills and generally shows an all-round approach in all areas. Aside from making a 15-game debut in 2017, he has hit .260 or better every year of his big league career.
Bringing in a powerful left-handed bat appears to be a deliberate effort by New York’s front office to add balance to the lineup. The Yankees have skewed right and relied heavily on power hitters in recent years. They generally found themselves lacking consistent offensive production after that Aaron the judge To a lesser extent, Gleyber Torres.
Verdugo isn’t an impact presence in the lineup, but he checks the box that general manager Brian Cashman has identified as a priority. Cashman expressed interest in having two outfielders join Judge, preferably a left-side hitter. Highest center field prospect Jason Dominguez He will be out of the team until midway through the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, while leaving the field has been a major issue the past two years. 22 years Everson Pereira There may be a long-term solution but he hit a .151/.233/.194 line in his first month as a big leaguer.
Still, the desire for multiple additions to the outfield leaves the Yankees playing big for bigger stars. New York has been linked to Juan Soto In trade rumors and Cody Bellinger In the free agent market. various correspondents (Including SNY’s Andy Martino) Not surprisingly, the Yankees transfer is still involved with Soto. Talks between the Yankees and Padres reportedly slowed over the weekend after San Diego demanded a condensed comeback spin. Michael King And the possibility Drew Thorpe.
Verdugo won’t take them out of the mix (or presumably impact a running back in Bellinger if they can’t join the Soto deal). However, it may require the Yankees to rely on Judge in center field for a season if they want to acquire Soto. Verdugo has not played center field since 2021. He has generally gotten solid marks for his glove in right field. Verdugo has one of the best arms in the game, though his speed and overall range are closer to average.
The alignment of the playing field will be determined based on future moves. Verdugo is stepping into a short-term acquisition that will solidify one position while buying time for Domínguez to rehab and Pereira to see more action in Triple-A. The veteran is a year away from free agency. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects to earn a salary of $9.2 million in his final season of arbitration.
This pushes the Yankees’ projected spending to approximately $246 million, as calculated by List resources. Their luxury tax number falls right at the $257 million line which represents the second level of penalty. Since they are paying the CBT for the second straight season, the Yankees are taxed 30% on spending between $237 million and $257 million. That would push their total tab on Verdugo into the $11 million range, while they’re sure to continue adding to the list (with accompanying higher penalties beyond the $257 million mark).
On the other side of the equation, Boston eliminated Verdugo’s salary expectations. They are moving on from a player who, while reasonably effective, has been somewhat disappointing overall at Fenway Park. In addition to being consistent in his performances, Verdugo has sometimes been criticized by the organization due to questions regarding perceived effort.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for the next leader of baseball operations to reshape the roster. This is the first significant trade during Craig Breslow’s tenure as president of baseball. It leaves a vacancy in right field, where the Sox seem likely to look to free agency or the trade market. Boston has left-handed hitting Jarren Duran, Wilier Abreu And Masataka Yoshida In the pitching mix, so going after a right-handed bat might make more sense.
They will also add controllable assist, with Weissert positioned as an immediate upgrade. The 28-year-old right-hander has reached the MLB level in each of the past two seasons. Weissert has worked 31 1/3 innings, allowing a 4.60 ERA. His underlying numbers are even more interesting. The Fordham product averaged about 94 mph on his sinker and four-seam fastball. He struck out 24.4% of the batters he faced while keeping the ball on the ground 47.3%.
Weissert also had a stellar year in Triple-A in 2023. Over 40 1/3 frames, he pitched to a 2.90 ERA while striking out over 34% of hitters. Control has been an issue throughout his career, but Weissert has consistently shown the ability to miss bats in action. He still has two optional years remaining and won’t reach arbitration for three seasons, making him a flexible and affordable piece.
Fitts, who turns 24 in a few weeks, is the most interesting of the young players involved. An Auburn product, he was drafted in the sixth round in 2021. The 6’3″ right-hander had an impressive year in Double-A Somerset, pitching to a 3.48 ERA across 152 2/3 innings. He has struck out nearly 26% of batters against a ranked walk percentage of 6.8%. Prospective evaluators praise Fitts’ slider and overall leadership, viewing him as a potential starting backfield prospect. Boston doesn’t need to add him to the 40-man roster until next season to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft, but it’s possible he could make his way into the MLB rotation mix at some point during the summer.
Giudice was an eighth-round pick this year out of UL-Monroe. The 6’8 pitcher posted a 3.74 ERA over 53 innings this draft year. BA’s draft report praised his potential as well as his speed in the mid-90s. Judice projects as a savior and is a low-key development flyer for the mansion.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan First mentioned trade terms. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports.
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