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Yankees acquire outfielder Alex Verdugo from rival Red Sox

Alex Verdugo

(Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)

Alex Verdugo
(Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)

Yankees acquire outfielder Alex Verdugo from rival Red Sox

In a rare New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox trade, the Yankees acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo in exchange for prospects Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert and Nicholas Judice, ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan was first to report Tuesday evening.

According to Passan and multiple other reports, the acquisition should not take the Yankees out of contention for San Diego Padres superstar outfielder Juan Soto, whom New York has been in the chase for all offseason.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in early November that the organization would be in the market for two outfielders who were “preferably” left-handed hitters. Verdugo fits the bill; he could theoretically play anywhere in the outfield with Aaron Judge in lieu of Jasson Dominguez‘s torn UCL, which will sideline him for the majority of 2024.

Verdugo, 27, is entering the last year of arbitration; he is projected to make about $9.2 million, according to Spotrac’s projections. According to MLB Trade Rumors’ arb. projections, Verdugo’s also expected to receive $9.2 million.

He was acquired by Boston in the blockbuster Mookie Betts deal ahead of the COVID-shortened 2020 season. In four years with the Red Sox, he slashed .281/.338/.424 (105 OPS+) with 43 home runs and 206 RBIs in 493 games (2,071 plate appearances).

Verdugo finished 12th in AL MVP voting in his first season in Boston, sporting a 123 OPS+, though it dipped to 107, 102 and 100, respectively, over the ensuing three seasons.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora benched Verdugo multiple times throughout the 2023 season–for not showing up on time (allegedly), lack of hustle and, at times, overall maturity that Cora deemed unacceptable–which understandably increased friction between the two sides.

Now, the Red Sox shore up some pitching help–all three prospects are pitchers, with Weissert being the most MLB-ready arm–flipping Verdugo in a contract year, albeit at the lowest value he might ever have. Wilyer Abreu, who slashed .316/.388/.464 in 85 plate appearances as a rookie, will presumably slide into the lone corner outfield slot alongside Masataka Yoshida (if he’s not DH) and Jarren Duran.

This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.

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