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Alex Verdugo trade: Yankees acquire outfielder from Red Sox in rare swap between AL East rivals

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The New York Yankees have agreed to acquire outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for three pitchers, the team announced Tuesday. The Red Sox in return will receive right-handers Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert, and Nicholas Judice. 

Verdugo, 27, is entering his final year of team control and will be eligible for free agency next winter barring an extension. He hit .281/.338/.424 (105 OPS+) and tallied 8.2 Wins Above Replacement across four seasons with the Red Sox after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Mookie Betts trade. He also repeatedly drew the ire of manager Alex Cora, resulting in him being benched in August after showing up late for a game

The Yankees had been seeking offensive help after ranking 25th in runs scored last season. They had been connected to some of the top left-handed hitters on the free-agent and trade markets, including San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto and free-agent center fielder Cody Bellinger. It’s unclear if Verdugo’s acquisition will impact those pursuits — Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggests both remain in play. In theory, the Yankees could shift Aaron Judge to center field to accommodate another corner outfielder if they so desire.

Fitts, 23, is a former sixth-round pick from Auburn. He accumulated a 3.48 ERA and a 3.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 Double-A starts this season. Weissert, 28, is the only one of the three with big-league experience. He’s appeared in 29 games with the big club the last two seasons, amassing a 4.60 ERA (93 ERA+) and a 2.54 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 innings. Judice, 22, was an eighth-round pick from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He has not yet made his professional debut. None of the three made Baseball America’s top-10 Yankees prospects list.

The Yankees and Red Sox have made for rare trade partners in recent history. As we noted about the Adam Ottavino trade in 2021: “This is the first trade between the Yankees and the Red Sox since a 2014 deal that saw Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson swap places. Prior to that, the Yankees and Red Sox had not agreed to a swap since 1997.” The Verdugo trade represents the seventh between the sides in the last 50 years.

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