Alex Verdugo story proves Aaron Judge is in 'GM LeBron mode' with Yankees

2024 New York Yankees Spring Training
2024 New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

The New York Yankees built their entire 2024 offseason around adding a left-handed threat in the outfield, pitching depth be damned. Said outfielder is in his walk year, but for now ... who cares about that? The Yankees still get one season with a player they've long coveted, and now will get a chance to prove to their recently acquired new teammate that New York is a great long-term fit. That outfielder they've eternally chased is, of course, Alex Verdugo.

Yes, while Juan Soto was Brian Cashman's White Whale and just might find himself in the Hall of Fame someday, Verdugo is the player whom New York's real GM, Aaron Judge, has apparently long coveted.

According to Verdugo on Thursday, Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo used to clown the ex-Red Sox throughout 2023 about how Judge was pressuring the front office to acquire him. While a deal might've felt out of the blue in December, the union was apparently months in the making.

Which begs the question ... is Aaron Judge wielding his influence properly? Or is he just out here acquiring D'Angelo Russell? And if it worked on Verdugo, why can't he convince the front office to splash just money to add Blake Snell, too?

Aaron Judge wanted Alex Verdugo on Yankees ... forever, we guess?

It's difficult to do two jobs at once. LeBron James has struggled pulling the strings in recent years as effectively as he once did in Miami and Cleveland. Hell, the dichotomy even got Bill Belichick, the greatest NFL coach of all time if not the winningest just yet, unceremoniously canned by the Patriots.

Judge clearly saw untapped value in Verdugo, amid his constant head-butting with Alex Cora. Even if Verdugo has reached his ceiling, he's still got plenty to offer a Yankees lineup that was righty heavy and short on contact last season. Heading into free agency next winter, Verdugo has every reason to be motivated to put on a show (although, based on Jordan Montgomery and Cody Bellinger's markets, momentum apparently doesn't matter anymore).

Bottom line, it seems like we need to mic up more first base conversations and publicize the audio. If the Yankees won't give us any hints, maybe Anthony Rizzo will.