Trade: A necessary overpay by the Yankees for Verdugo

December 5, 2023

On Tuesday night, the New York Yankees acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitchers Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert and Nicholas Judice. While the Yankees are receiving a steady force in the field, it’s Boston who will reap the benefits of this deal in the end.

New York’s Haul

There is no question the Yankees need more players like Verdugo. He’ll provide an immediate stabalizing force in an outfield that has seen so much flux and underperformance over the past several years. Verdugo never quite reached his All-Star upside that was touted when he came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, but nonetheless there’s plenty of value in the total package.

Verdugo has consistently been a 2 fWAR player over the past five seasons. He’s never been more than a 2.1 fWAR player, but he’s been at least a 1.9 fWAR player in four of the last five seasons as well. A career .281/.337/.428 hitter, Verdugo puts the ball in play and posts extremely low strikeout rates. His fringy power is likely to play up a bit at Yankees Stadium. It should surprise no one if he finally cracks the 15 homer total in 2024. Verdugo is a below-to-fringy runner and doesn’t provide much value on the bases or in the speed department in the field, but he does have a plus throwing arm and will keep runners in place.

He’s a great fit for right field in New York, however he’s likely to be deployed in left field and will serve a solid option to get Aaron Judge off his feet once a week.

This is a steady player who won’t impact the Yankees lineup in a loud way, but he will do a nice job of keeping the conga line moving, something New York has struggled with in recent memory. He has the potential to create some riffraff at the back-half the Yankees order.

Verdugo is scheduled to make roughly $9 million this upcoming season and will hit the free agent market next winter.

Boston’s Haul

The Red Sox acquired three quite good arms in this deal with the Yankees.

New York paid a particularly heavy price for a player with one year of control. Especially for a player who has yet to post anything close to an impactful season. Verdugo is a solid player, make no mistake about it. But he doesn’t move the needle in an impactful way.

Fitts is a sturdy, bulldog-framed hurler with obvious starter traits. He’s seen marked improvement every year going back to his draft year in 2021. Once labeled a future first-round pick, he fell to the sixth round that year after around after being hit a good bit at Auburn.

Fitts changed his delivery in the winter of 2022 and has thrown more strikes because of it. His 2.8 BB/9 is down to 2.4 BB/9 at the pro level. Fitts will creep into the mid-90s with a fastball that routinely lives in the 92-94 mph bucket. It’s a high-spin offering that doesn’t possess electric shape, but he does pound the zone with it. His out pitch is a mid-80s slider that he commands quite well to the glove-side. It’s a potential plus pitch. There’s also a much fringier changeup here.

Fitts profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter with No. 3 upside if he can extract a bit more value out of the fastball going forward. He’s in line to see Triple-A in 2024 and could debut with the Red Sox this summer.

From this chair, Judice is the second-best arm going to Boston. We had Judice ranked a 5th round talent in the 2023 MLB Draft, though he slipped to the 8th round due to his considerable relief risk. Judice saw his stuff really pop in 2023 after lowering his arm slot during the fall of 2022.

The fastball will touch 97, but it’s his mid-to-upper 80s slider that grabbed headlines for scouts. Judice already presents a difficult angle for hitters with his wide release, so when you tack on more than a foot of sweep with significant velocity, it’s a pretty imposing offering. The slider might end up plus, and he’ll have to use it early and often at the pro level. The fastball quality can vary from appearance to appearance, mostly sitting in the average category. He’ll mix in a changeup too, and while the peripherals are interesting, his feel for consistently executing the pitch has a ways to go.

At 6-foot-8, Judice is a fairly intimidating presence on the mound, and many think there’s more in the tank on the way. He did not pitch this year after being drafted.

Weissert should slot immediately into the Red Sox bullpen, though he could go back to Triple-A for further seasoning if Boston sees so fit. In 20 big league innings in 2023, he struck out 22 hitters while posting a 1.450 WHIP. He’s a mid-leverage type of guy who will mix it up on the bump. Primarily a sinker, slider, four-seam guy, Weissert has been up to 96 and will live 93-95. His four-seamer was particularly effective this past season and it could eventually end up his go-to weapon as he works away from being primarily a sinker guy.

From this chair, the Red Sox landed a two intriguing arms in Fitts and Weissert who could see Fenway Park this summer. Judice is a ways away, and is more of a lottery ticket, but the instrinsic traits surrounding his profile can be pretty tough to come by in Major League Baseball. He’s fun.


This is probably a deal the Yankees had to make. Gerrit Cole and Judge aren’t getting any younger. They’re in win-now mode and presently lack the bats necessary to compete with some of the behemoths in the AL East. This gets them closer, but from this chair they remain a few notable pieces away from being in the same conversation as the Toronto Blue Jays, let alone the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.

Joe Doyle
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