There hadn’t been much activity during the second full day of the Winter Meetings, though the rumors of the Yankees’ connection to the Padres and Juan Soto continued to build. At 9:03pm ET, it almost felt like something could come soon because Jack Curry of the YES Network tweeted that the Yankees were “trying to get a deal done” amid the stalemate in talks.
Mere minutes later, a deal was indeed reported as done. The only problem was that it was for a totally different outfielder altogether: Alex Verdugo of the Red Sox. Take it away, Jeff Passan:
BREAKING: The New York Yankees are acquiring outfielder Alex Verdugo in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for right-handeres Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert and Nicholas Judice, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2023
On the one hand, the Yankees getting Verdugo isn’t a complete shock because they’d been reportedly mulling a deal of him in exchange for Gleyber Torres at the MLB Trade Deadline. He seemed to remain a target on the market even as this current offseason commenced with everything swirling around Soto.
On the other, the whiplash from the Soto rumors to Verdugo suddenly becoming a Yankee was ... quite its own weird* experience, I’ll admit. And Jon Heyman and Brendan Kuty are reporting that this doesn’t necessarily take them out of the Soto sweepstakes, which makes sense since GM Brian Cashman has said for awhile now that the plan this offseason is to acquire two outfielders. The offense faltered enough last year that this is certainly a valid goal.
Still, it makes me a little worried, particularly with Verdugo faltering to just a league-average 100 wRC+ since the start of 2022 (.272/.326/.413 with 24 homers in 294 games). That’s not even getting into Verdugo the actual guy, either.
Verdugo is a lefty bat, and those are needed in the lineup — even if he’s due to hit free agency next offseason. But he also pushes Aaron Judge into center field under the current alignment, which is far from ideal. Jasson Domínguez will hopefully be back sometime midseason to handle it, but it’s hard to know how much to gamble on a rookie’s quick recovery. I like Richard Fitts and Greg Weissert has a nasty sweeper, but I get moving them and the 2023 draft pick Nicholas Judice for even a rental. But is this the move to make?
PSA will have more on this trade. For now, it looks like* the Yankees have one of their 2024 outfielders.
*HOWEVER, last nugget for this post: Jim Bowden is suggesting that the Yankees could flip Verdugo as part of a deal for Soto. Dare we dream??
The New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired OF Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for RHP Greg Weissert, RHP Richard Fitts and RHP Nicholas Judice.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) December 6, 2023