Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Alex Verdugo and Mookie Betts are now both gone via trade. And the deal that connected them in the first place is somehow getting worse.

In case you missed it last night, the Red Sox traded Verdugo to the New York Yankees for a package of  mid-level pitchers you’ve never heard of. Nobody could possibly know whether any of those guys will work out. In the end, the only thing that might be surprising here is that the Red Sox sent Verdugo to their longtime rivals, which should tell you a couple of things. First, the Sox don’t seem afraid that Verdugo will come back to hurt them. And second – if the Yankees keep Verdugo – they are betting that Verdugo will be nothing more than a productive stopgap at Yankee Stadium, which is obviously conducive to left-handed hitters. (Nonetheless, Verdugo has a career average there of just .252 with a .738 OPS.)

If you’re confused about any of the above assessments, it’s probably the phrase “if the Yankees keep Verdugo.” According to various reports, the Yankees might be able to include Verdugo in a deal with the San Diego Padres that could bring Juan Soto to New York. Given the way things have gone for the Red Sox in recent years, it’s worth noting that the Red Sox might have just given the Yankees the final piece to help complete a trade that would send Juan Soto to the Bronx. As such, it’s possible that both Shohei Ohtani and Soto will land in the American League East – and that neither of them will be in Boston.

How’s that for a kick in the head?

That said, here are a few morning-after thoughts on what the Alex Verdugo trade means and how it relates to the lost-cause that was the Mookie Betts trade:

  • This wasn’t a “big” trade

    BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 13: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox hangs his head in front of the scoreboard on the Green Monster in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on August 13, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 13: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox hangs his head in front of the scoreboard on the Green Monster in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on August 13, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

    Admittedly, this is probably a “me” problem, but some reports have suggested that this move was the first “big” trade of the Craig Breslow era. It wasn’t. Trading Verdugo has been a forgone conclusion for weeks if not months, especially given the emergence of outfield Wilyer Abreu. In the same breath, you can’t call Verdugo a headache and refer to the Yankees trade as a “big” deal. It was basically a dump. Verdugo got suspended and/or benched by manager Alex Cora twice last year and he hit .225 with a .635 OPS after the All-Star break. If he had been with the Sox on Opening Day 2024, it would have been a failure.

  • The “big” trade now looks like an even “bigger” bust

    BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 27: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he rounds the bases after his two-run home run during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on August 27, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 27: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he rounds the bases after his two-run home run during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on August 27, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    Before you start singing the praises and potential of Connor Wong … pump the brakes. A few months ago, the Red Sox drafted catcher Kyle Teel with the 14th pick of the draft – and Teel rocket-shipped to Double-A by the end of the minor-league season. (Wong is a backup, folks.) Verdugo now joins Jeter Downs (long ago released) as casualties of the Mookie Betts trade, which was a no-win proposition from the start. That said, the deal continues to get worse. Betts just claimed his third runner-up finish in the Most Valuable Player award balloting and the fifth top-5 finish of his career. The Los Angeles Dodgers also just announced that Betts will be playing second base next season on a full-time basis. Know what the Red Sox’ offensive needs are this offseason? A good right-handed bat and a second baseman. Know anyone who could do both?

  • Verdugo really wasn’t good here

    BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 23: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after lining out with two runners on-base during the eighth inning of their 1-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on September 23, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 23: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after lining out with two runners on-base during the eighth inning of their 1-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on September 23, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    Again, this might be a “me” problem. Still, the idea that the Red Sox got good play from Verdugo is badly overblown because he never really turned into the kind of player he could have been – or that they needed. Over the last four seasons (2020-2023), among the 50 regular major league outfielders who amassed 1,500 plate appearances, Verdugo ranked 28th in WAR,  30th in OPS, 25th in defensive runs saved (among 55 who played 2,500 innings). Get the picture? He wasn’t an All-Star. He didn’t suck. He was … meh. And you didn’t trade Mookie Betts for meh.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.