When the New York Yankees broke the Winter Meetings dam and traded for Alex Verdugo, the baseball world was stunned. Doing business with the Red Sox? For a middling player with supposed character issues? In this economy?
But then Yankees fans exhaled. The Juan Soto trade hadn't been completed. Perhaps the Padres wanted Verdugo as an additional piece. Hope is still alive!
Then ... nope. Soto and Trent Grisham came to the Yankees for a package of five other players, the Yankees stated their intent to keep Verdugo, and then general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone made it known Verdugo has been a target of the team for quite some time.
Huh? Excuse us? You've long been hoping to land a guy with a career 105 OPS+ and at times questionable defense? A player who's been called out by his manager countless times since the 2022 season? Why?
Clayton Kershaw story shows how Alex Verdugo could be disaster with Yankees
Did the Yankees not realize the Red Sox' willingness to trade Verdugo within the division could've been a signal that they're confident he either won't make an impact or could cause problems with their chief rival?
If we turn back the clocks a few years and reference an old reported story from Verdugo's days with the Dodgers, the potential for Verdugo to be an issue in New York is certainly a realistic possibility. Because if Clayton Kershaw was rumored to have an issue with Verdugo, how can the outfielder not be viewed as a potential threat to disrupt team chemistry?
"'The Red Sox got rid of a headache,' the scout told NJ Advance Media. 'Verdugo marches to his own tune. He’s always been like that.'- Randy Miller, NJ.com
The scout then told a damning Verdugo story:
'When he was with the Dodgers, he wasn’t on their playoff roster but they kept him around in case somebody got hurt. Clayton Kershaw went up to management one day and told them to get him the hell out of this clubhouse. Within a couple hours, he was packed and on his way.'
The scout’s assessment of Verdugo’s makeup was verified in The Boston Globe’s trade story."
Kershaw is one of the most decorated active MLB players and a future Hall of Famer. He's famously even-keeled, a well-known positive clubhouse influence, and one of the best veterans to be around. If this story has a shred of veracity to it and the Yankees managed to catch wind of it, what in the world were they thinking?
Looking at the flip side -- because we like to give everybody a chance -- Verdugo has much more experience under his belt now, and will have multiple star players higher than him in the pecking order to keep him in check (Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Juan Soto, Giancarlo Stanton, etc.). It's definitely a more structured locker room than almost anything he's experienced in Boston, and the sample size of his time spent in LA probably isn't the best to base anything on. And right now, Verdugo's in a position where he can't really mess up. He's heading into a contract year and will be on the best roster yet since making his MLB debut.
Can't confidently say we're not concerned about that Kershaw story, though, so you'll know exactly what to reference when the first signs of trouble start to surface.
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