4 Yankees in contract year whose motivations could lift 2024 roster

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game One
New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game One / Winslow Townson/GettyImages
4 of 4

Alex Verdugo

The Year of the Dugie that Boston Red Sox fans were yearning for in 2022 and 2023 might very well come with the Yankees in 2024. What a story that would be.

Acquired in a trade with the Yanks' hated rivals this offseason, Verdugo comes to New York as someone with a lot to prove. He was consistently called out by his former manager Alex Cora the last couple years in Beantown, which resulted in public spats. Verdugo took a parting shot at Cora in his introductory call with the Yanks, too.

Fans certainly like that energy, but it'll feel empty without the requisite production. Verdugo was brought in to lengthen the Yankees lineup and provide a left-handed threat to turn over the order. The potential is there, too.

Not only has his defense improved significantly, the former Dodgers top prospect has shown an ability to hit for contact and rack up extra-base hits. He also barely strikes out. Oh yeah, and Verdugo received MVP votes in the shortened 2020 season!

But he's coming off his worst full season of his MLB career. He hit .264 with a .745 OPS (100 OPS+). He kind of became a heel in Boston as the fans grew frustrated, since he was supposed to be the crown jewel of the Mookie Betts trade.

In 2024, he'll remain in the AL East with something to prove right in front of his new biggest rival. His defense in the outfield will save the Yankees after a season in which they played infielders in the left and right pastures. His bat should see an uptick in production surrounded by the most talent he's ever played alongside in his career.

Like Torres, Verdugo can set the record straight and dictate his own future. He'll make $9-10 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, but he needs an all-around good season to convince a potential investor he's worth a longer-term deal. That'll stick it to Cora, wouldn't it?