The New York Yankees have done the unthinkable, consummating a trade with the Boston Red Sox for a controversial outfielder while simultaneously dimming the lights temporarily on their pursuit of Juan Soto.
Seemingly seconds after YES Network's Jack Curry announced that New York was "trying to continue their efforts to acquire Soto from the Padres," Jeff Passan bombed away, breaking through the darkness of the Winter Meetings to announce that the Yankees had pulled off ... an Alex Verdugo trade.
The lefty-hitting outfielder, entering his final year of team control, will theoretically slot into left field (he's no center fielder, Aaron Judge has stabilized right).
Or ... perhaps ... he'll be flipped in a forthcoming Soto package to lessen the pitching lift and help the Padres "win now" as their contracts age?
Yankees acquire Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo for Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert
Known mostly around these parts as someone who walked off the Yankees every few months and gloated about it, Verdugo made significant defensive strides in 2023, though his bat fell off as the season dragged on. He finished with a league-average 100 OPS and 2.6 bWAR produced, though there were times in the season's first half where he appeared to be on an All-Star pace.
Verdugo isn't without maturity issues, either. He was tied to a 2015 sexual assault while in the Dodgers' system after reportedly attending a party where the incident took place. Verdugo claimed, after being dealt to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts, that he had been "cleared of any wrongdoing". Red Sox manager Alex Cora also ran afoul of Verdugo in 2023 after several benchings related to his conduct.
The Yankees got off lighter than expected here, surrendering a mid-tier pitching prospect and a high-variance reliever in Greg Weissert, as opposed to dealing Gleyber Torres. Hopefully, though, for the sake of the fans, Verdugo is wearing an interlocking "SD" on his hat on Opening Day.