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The Yankees’ Alex Verdugo trade looks like a Brian Cashman win

Jon Heyman

Jon Heyman

MLB

BOSTON – Here’s some blunt, unsolicited advice for the Red Sox: Stop trading with the Yankees, guys. If you start your transaction history by sending Babe Ruth to the Bronx for $100,000, thus handing your hated rival a dynasty for the ages for relative pennies, you’ll never get your hands on the ledger anyway. So why even try?

The last major move (but not that important!) between history’s greatest sporting foes looks today very much like yet another unqualified winner for New York. Alex Verdugo, who has matched the hope and exceeded the hype in pinstripes, made his old team pay big in his first game at Fenway Park.

Verdugo hit the very first pitch he saw here as a Yankee into the center field bleachers, and later drove in a run off the Green Monster in left and singled in another run. His three-hit, four-RBI performance provided a homecoming from heaven and spurred the Yankees to their 50th victory as baseball’s leading team, while the Red Sox fell to .500.

Alex Verdugo drove in four runs for the Yankees on Friday night. AP
Alex Verdugo homered against the Red Sox on Friday. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The young man with the striking diamond chains and original quotes always had a sense of the dramatic, even if he turned out not to be worthy of homegrown superstar Mookie Betts. The Red Sox sent Fool to Los Angeles to pick him up (and then some).

Verdugo’s trade to the Yankees will never be the worst trade the Red Sox made for him, as the first one was an all-time doozy — almost unforgivable for this sports-mad city. It’s also not the best deal the Yankees made during the Winter Meetings, as they landed his superstar outfield buddy Juan Soto at the same event in Nashville in December.

While Verdugo was primarily seen as a solid left-handed bat and a fine glove to fill the Yankees’ left-field hole for a year, he has proven to be almost All-Star worthy. He’s unlikely to get an invite to Arlington, Texas, because he shares an outfield with the two leading MVP candidates – Aaron Judge and Soto – but after a promotion he often finds himself cleaning up in the league’s best lineup.

He hit great (.757 OPS), played better and has proven to be the best odds on the team. Even as he tries to push back on reports of an alleged rift with Red Sox manager Alex Cora that led to this fortuitous transaction, he does so in colorful fashion.

“Me and him, we’re doing well. We’re good,” Verdugo said of Cora before the Yankees’ 8-1 win. “Our families love each other. Our children like each other. We don’t have any problems off the field. We bumped heads a few times. And that’s fine. Not everyone will always agree on things. But actually I only have respect for AC.”

After saying a lot, he ended by saying, “That’s all I want to say about AC.”

Agreement.

In regards to his baseball deal to New York, after being upset for a few days, he realized he was going to a “great organization,” and so he acclimatized himself by shaving off one of the wilder beards that were growing were growing. He immediately revealed a baby face and eventually a murderous desire.

Verdugo, who made a triumphant gesture during his merry tour of the bases after his first-inning home run off Brayan Bello, offered the best recommendations. None other than Judge has liked his game in recent years. So did Aaron Boone. Apparently Boone bumped GM Brian Cashman every chance he had.

“I felt like he would bring an element that we were missing and that we could definitely use. So I was excited to get it,” Boone said. “But I think he exceeded expectations.”

Brian Cashman’s decision to trade for Alex Verdugo has paid off so far. Charles Wenzelberg

Cashman made headlines for blowing up at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, defending himself and his staff quite aggressively (and somewhat profanely) after what he described as a “disaster” of a 2023 season. A month later, he wrote he may have had the best week of a long and storied career (well, it’s now documented in a book, I hear).

The rivals understandably don’t do many deals together. The trade of Verdugo for a middle reliever and two (at best) minor leaguers in the middle was interesting, but was quickly overshadowed by the move for the incomparable Soto.

We’re assuming this was by far the best the Red Sox could do for the player who posted an average season in 2023, is a free agent after 2024 and (deserved or not) had a reputation for slowness. The rivalry isn’t quite what it used to be, but we’re also assuming the Red Sox still prefer to trade with others.

Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Aaron Judge celebrate the Yankees’ victory against the Red Sox on Friday. Getty Images

We’re also assuming the Red Sox’ new regime knows what it’s doing. While they won’t be competing for the AL East this time, they have done well with pitchers and young players and probably made the right picks this time around, showing their restraint in free agency. They generally didn’t play for the biggest guys, and the closest they came was that now-famous Zoom call with Jordan Montgomery, who was pathetic in the desert with the Diamondbacks.

Yes indeed, Boston’s new baseball braintrust had a boffo winter, with one notable exception.




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