First Winter Meetings Splash: Alex Verdugo Traded to the Yankees

In a shocking trade, the Boston Red Sox have sent outfielder Alex Verdugo to their chief division rival, the New York Yankees.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 30: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts to hitting a triple in the first inning during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday, March 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Fire up those stoves! Get those Twitter memes off! The first major move of the offseason is here! Perhaps the most historically relevant rivalry in all of North American sports, the New York Yankees have acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox.

As first reported by Jeff Passan, the Yankees will be sending pitchers Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert, and Nicholas Judice to Boston in exchange for the outfielder’s services:

They say the best kind of trades are the ones you hear the least about (unconfirmed whether or not anybody actually says this), and this one doesn’t just take the cake, it chomps into it like Pac-Man eating ghosts after acquiring a power pellet. During a time of a seemingly endless supply of rumors regarding stars like Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto, the move elicits plenty of follow-up questions.

For one thing, it’s incredibly rare to see trades within the division, and perhaps even more rare in the case of Boston and New York; the two teams have only completed eight trades between each other since 1969.

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The move, according to SNY’s Andy Martino, also doesn’t necessarily signal the Yankees are out of the Juan Soto sweepstakes. Given the rarity of an in-division trade, the possibility of New York flipping him to San Diego is certainly plausible — as both teams have reportedly been in negotiations for some time.

Perhaps a move involving one of Michael King and Drew Thorpe, Verdugo, a bullpen arm, and the Yankees taking on Trent Grisham could be what swings a trade for the superstar. On the other hand, it’s been quite some time since the Yankees have followed up these more, relatively speaking, micro-level moves with a splash for a true superstar (the trade for an aging Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa with no further moves comes to mind).

On the Boston side of things, it marks the first major move from new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow. Rather poetically, this first splash is a partial rebuttal of the move his predecessor, Chaim Bloom, made a few years back. Rather infamously, Bloom traded superstar Mookie Betts in exchange for Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong. Wong is now the sole remaining piece from the 2020 blockbuster.

Verdugo, for his part, has mostly played out as an average outfielder. In 2023, he slashed .264/.324/.421 with 13 home runs and a 98 wRC+. Defensively, he charted quite well in right field, where he produced 9 DRS and a positive OAA mark of 1.

All of that gave him an fWAR of 2, which — if we’re assuming this is part of a larger scheme for Soto — would be a better number than what the Padres garnered from Trent Grisham (1.7).

If a flip to San Diego were to occur, Verdugo would likely be moved to center or left given the defensive excellence of platinum-glove-winner Fernando Tatis Jr. already having right field on lockdown.

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But regardless of whether this move is just the first of many steps to come for either team — or a sign that the entire league as a whole, for lack of a better term, is finally ready to start popping off — it’ll certainly give east coast sports talk radio shows plenty to talk about.