Mazz: Alex Verdugo, Wilyer Abreu on collision course for Red Sox in right field
Take a good look at the photo above. If it looks like Red Sox teammates Alex Verdugo and Wilyer Abreu are headed for a collision in right field, they are.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Between left field and right field, here’s the problem for the Red Sox: they have a lot of redundancy. Between Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran, Verdugo and Abreu, the Red Sox have four left-handed-hitting outfielders, all of whom seem fitted for the corners. And while Verdugo was a plus defender this season in right field, none of them seem ideally suited to play center, though the Red Sox did give Abreu a good look there late in the year.
Still, given the general need for a plus defender in right field at Fenway Park, Abreu seems destined to replace Verdugo, with whom Alex Cora and the Red Sox have clearly grown quite fatigued. This is ultimately good news, of course, because the Sox should come out of that crowd with two assets to trade, presumably in Jarren Duran and Verdugo, the latter of whom is projected to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.2 million next year.
By replacing him with Abreu in right field – Areu who batted .316 with an .862 OPS in 85 plate appearances this season – the Red Sox could save about $8.5 million, trade Verdugo to help fill another need and theoretically be just as good (or better) at what was arguably their most competitive, all-around position in 2024.
Are there questions? Sure. All in all, Abreu is still unproven. And while he batted a respectable .258 with a .788 OPS against left-handed pitching in the minors, he was just 2-for-10 with five strikeouts in a microscopic big league sample. The good news is that the Sox still have Rob Refsnyder, who has been one of the best outfielders in baseball against left-handed pitching over the last three seasons. (Don’t laugh. It’s legit.)
Look, it’s OK to have a platoon or two on the field – even for the big-market teams. You just don’t want to have too many of them. And if the Red Sox are going to make some big moves this offseason, they must patch it together at some places, be it corner outfielder, catcher or maybe second base. There are a million ways they could make that all work. Abreu and Refsnyder are merely one option.