Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Yankees & Red Sox Make Rare Trade


Yankee Stadium. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees and Boston Red Sox made a rare trade on Tuesday night, one that benefits both clubs. 

Oufielder Alex Verdugo will be heading to The Bronx, while a trio of right-handed pitchers - Greg Weissert, Richard Fitts, and Nicholas Judice - will be going to the Red Sox.

Verdugo will forever be known as the main piece of the package the Los Angeles Dodgers sent to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade in 2020. 

The 27-year-old hit .264, with a .324 on-base percentage, had 13 home runs, 54 RBI, 37 doubles, five triples, a career-high in extra-base hits with 55, 81 runs scored, and 45 walks. 

Verdugo has been in the Major Leagues for seven years, as he played for the Dodgers from 2017-19 and the past four seasons in Boston (2020-23). His best season in Boston was in 2021, as they made a trip to the American League Championship Series, when he played in 146 games, and hit .289, with a .351 OBP, hit 13 home runs, with 63 RBI, with 51 walks.

Perhaps the best feature about Verdugo is he doesn't strike out much, as he has not had 100 Ks in a season in his career, topping out with 96 in 2021 and 93 last season. 

Verdugo is an excellent defender, as he was a Gold Glove finalist this past season after he had a .990 fielding percentage (308 total catches/3 errors). His 12 outfield assists (which means when he threw someone out at a base or home plate) were tied for the third-most among Major League right fielders.

While Verdugo primarily played right field last season (that's where Aaron Judge plays), he has played significant amounts of time at all three outfield positions. He has played 291 games (255 starts) in right, 251 games (216 starts) in left field, and 118 games (100 starts) in center field.

The downside to Verdugo is that he had numerous disciplinary issues late in the season when he was benched by Manager Alex Cora. This also is a sad coda to their return for Betts, as Verdugo likely didn't perform to the level they envisioned, and the other major piece of the trade, shortstop Jeter Downs, flamed out quick and was traded to the Washington Nationals last summer. Catcher Connor Wong is the only one of the trio they received from the Dodgers for Betts remaining with the Sox.

This marks just the third Major League trade between the clubs since 2015, and the second within this calendar year, as the Yankees acquired outfielder Greg Allen for right-handed pitcher Diego Hernandez and cash considerations on May 19, 2023. It has been nearly three years since the Yankees sent right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston on January 25, 2021.

Who The Yankees Sent To Boston:

Gregg Weissert: The Bay Shore, Long Island, native was drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Fordham University. The 28-year-old has made 29 career relief appearances over the past two seasons, and he has gone 3-0 with a 4.60 ERA, with 31.1 innings pitched, 16 earned runs, 27 hits, 33 strikeouts, and four home runs allowed. This past season, he came in relief 17 times, with a 4.05 ERA, as he threw 20 innings, allowing nine earned runs on 21 hits and eight walks, with 22 strikeouts. He also spent time with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he made 38 relief appearances, and had a 5-3 record with 10 saves, as he had 58 strikeouts in 40.1 innings pitched.

Richard Fitts: The 23-year-old was drafted by the Yankees in the sixth round of the 2021 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University. He has made 49 starts in two seasons in the Yankees organization, and he has gone 18-13 with a 3.57 ERA, with 264.2 innings pitched, 110 runs/105 earned runs, 63 walks, 294 strikeouts, 36 home runs allowed in 49 starts. In 2023, he spent the entire season with Double-A Somerset, and he went 11-5 with a 3.48 ERA, with 152.2 innings pitched, 131 hits, 60 runs/59 earned runs, 43 walks, 163 strikeouts, and 22 home runs allowed in 27 starts.

Nicholas Judice: The 22-year-old Baton Rouge, Louisiana native was drafted by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2023 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He has yet to pitch professionally.

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