Alex Verdugo emerges new frontier to fire up Yankees-Red Sox rivalry

Alex Verdugo and Aaron Judge are at Yankees 2024 spring training camp.

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Newly acquired Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo addressed concerns about his reputation from his time with the Red Sox, assuring everyone that he’s not a “rebel” and intends to be a positive influence in New York. However, he has become the focus in the new frontier of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Earlier Alex Verdugo took a potshot at Boston manager Alex Cora and it drew immediate retaliation from former Boston great Jonathan Papelbon. On Friday, the Yankees player responded signaling a renewed rivalry between two historic rivals.

“Honestly, I don’t care about anything he says,” he said. “I don’t know him personally. I’ve never even seen him around the clubhouse in the four years that I was with the Red Sox.”

“I don’t feel like he has any idea what was going on the team, in house. He’s always been a guy that’s very emotional and kind of crazy in a way. He doesn’t really care. He kind of just says what he wants, with no filter to him. But honestly, he has a right to his opinion, and if that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels,” he later added. “Hopefully, he feels better, he got his little reaction out, whatever. I don’t care.”

Acknowledging past rumors about clashes with former Boston manager Alex Cora, Alex Verdugo emphasized his commitment to being a “model citizen” for current Yankees manager Aaron Boone. He further stated that there are no lingering hard feelings towards Cora and that he’s focused on contributing to the team’s success.

Yankees bet on Alex Verdugo came via two big stars

Yankees' Anthony Volpe and Alex Verdugo at Tampa facility on Ja 13, 2024.
Charles Wenzelberg/NYP

Alex Verdugo’s recent statements about his past and commitment to the Yankees, coupled with his mature demeanor during spring training, have instilled optimism within the organization. The team is counting on him to provide stability and consistent production as their everyday left fielder.

Furthermore, Alex Verdugo’s acquisition wasn’t a random occurrence. Over the years, several key players within the Yankees organization, including Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, had expressed their admiration for his talent and believed he would be a valuable asset to the team. This suggests a strong internal belief in his potential and fit within the team culture.

While it’s important to note that past performance doesn’t guarantee future success, the positive signals surrounding Alex Verdugo’s arrival offer encouraging signs for the Yankees. His integration into the team and contributions on the field will ultimately determine his impact on the organization’s success.

Alex Verdugo mentioned that Judge had informed him that he had been advocating for him. Additionally, he recalled that Rizzo had been subtly hinting at him while on first base, indicating that they were working on bringing him to the team.

Alex Verdugo recalled that he would respond to Rizzo by saying, “no way, man. No way.” However, upon joining the team, Rizzo was quick to point out, “I told you so.”

On December 5, Alex Verdugo’s four-year stint with the Boston Red Sox came to an end through a trade to the New York Yankees. This move followed a tumultuous 2023 season where he faced two separate benchings by manager Alex Cora for tardiness, one in June and another in August.

Reports indicate that Alex Verdugo was equally displeased with Cora’s decision to publicly announce the disciplinary actions to the media, as he was with the penalties themselves. While the specific details of these incidents remain undisclosed, they undoubtedly contributed to the trade negotiations.

Alex Verdugo mentioned that those incidents were now in the past. Regarding his new Yankees teammates, he stated that they had established a good rhythm and routine. He further noted that so far, he had only had positive experiences and that everyone had been welcoming and friendly towards him.

Alex Verdugo trade fuels Yankees’ rivalry excitement


The New York Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox in December, adding a familiar face to their lineup and fueling the already heated rivalry between the two teams.

The Yankees had their eyes on him for several years, impressed by his performances with the Red Sox. Aaron Judge reportedly voiced his admiration for Verdugo’s talent, urging the team to pursue him.

The Red Sox, with a surplus of outfield options, were open to trading Alex Verdugo. Reports suggest he might have faced challenges with manager Alex Cora, leading to two benchings last season – one for tardiness and another for perceived lack of effort. The Yankees hope he can contribute significantly to their lineup, while the Red Sox face the challenge of replacing his production.

Aaron Boone, who shares a close relationship with Sox manager Alex Cora, mentioned that the Yankees thoroughly researched Alex Verdugo before bringing him on board in December. However, Boone emphasized that the left-handed hitting outfielder would experience a “new beginning” while wearing the pinstripes.

Boone stated that Alex Verdugo arrives with a clean slate, being someone whom many individuals in the room hold in high regard. Boone noted that Alex Verdugo has integrated smoothly into the team early on. Despite his promising start to his career, Boone feels that Verdugo is a player who is just beginning to tap into his potential.

Alex Verdugo’s statistics against the Yankees weren’t exceptional – he recorded a .263 batting average with five home runs and a .715 OPS in 55 games against them. However, despite this, he managed to make a lasting impression on Judge and other players. Judge expressed his admiration for Alex Verdugo, describing him as a “gamer” and a “competitor” who continued to play despite injuries.

Alex Verdugo mentioned that he consistently plays through various challenges every year. He explained that he doesn’t let minor injuries like a bruised heel or a slightly injured shoulder stop him from playing. The player emphasizes the importance of working with what he has each day and striving to give his best despite the circumstances with a mindset to push through whatever obstacles come his way.

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