Who is Alex Verdugo, Red Sox’s 99 who Yankees signed in 2023?

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In a surprising trade with rivals the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees have acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo. Known for his exceptional edge and intensity on the field, he has been on the Yankees’ radar for some time, according to manager Aaron Boone.His defensive capabilities were showcased in 2023, earning him a Gold Glove finalist status with 12 outfield assists and an impressive nine defensive runs saved. Notably, he exclusively played right field during the season, accumulating 9 Defensive Runs Saved in the position. Despite his defensive prowess, the 27-year-old left-handed hitter is facing offensive challenges that have been evident in his recent performance with the Red Sox.

However, the offensive side of Alex Verdugo’s game has seen some struggles, as reflected in his 2023 statistics. While he posted a respectable .264 batting average with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs, and a .745 OPS, advanced metrics indicate a mixed bag of offensive performance. Baseball Savant reveals his elite numbers in chase percentage, whiff percentage, strikeout rate, and xBA, showcasing his offensive potential. Yet, the challenges are evident, and his offensive consistency remains a focal point for improvement.

As Alex Verdugo transitions from the Red Sox to the Yankees, he brings a unique blend of defensive excellence and offensive potential. With two Gold Gloves already in his career, his defensive contributions are expected to be a key asset for the Yankees, while the team remains hopeful that adjustments can be made to bolster his offensive production. The $9 million salary for 2024 adds financial considerations to this intriguing trade, as both Alex Verdugo and the Yankees navigate their future plans. As he joins forces with Aaron Judge in the Yankees’ outfield, Alex Verdugo’s journey will be closely watched, with fans and analysts eager to see how he adapts to the challenges and opportunities in the Bronx.

Who is Alex Verdugo

On the 15th of May in the year 1995, Alexander Brady Verdugo entered the world, marking the inception of a promising baseball journey. The Los Angeles Dodgers recognized Alex Verdugo’s potential, choosing him in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft. In 2017, he stepped into the grand stage of Major League Baseball with the Dodgers, later gracing the field for the Boston Red Sox. Not only did he showcase his prowess on the international level, representing the Mexican national team in both the 2017 and 2023 World Baseball Classics.

Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Alex Verdugo pursued his education at Sahuaro High School. Despite having the option to play college baseball at Arizona State University, he opted to embark on his professional path with the Dodgers. The Arizona League Dodgers witnessed his initial feats, where he compiled an impressive .347 batting average across 49 games. These accomplishments earned him prestigious post-season Arizona League All-Star honors and recognition as a Baseball America Rookie League all-star.

Credits: Baseball America

The journey continued as Alex Verdugo commenced the 2015 season with the Class-A Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League. Over 101 games, he displayed a commendable .295 batting average, securing his spot on the post-season all-star team. The trajectory of success saw a late-season promotion to the Advanced-Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League. In a brief yet impactful stint of 23 games, he maintained a remarkable .385 batting average. A particularly memorable highlight was Alex Verdugo achieving the cycle in a game against the Lancaster JetHawks on August 27. Such outstanding performances culminated in him being bestowed with the organization’s minor league Player of the Year award.

Embarking on the 2016 season, Alex Verdugo ascended to the ranks of the Double-A Tulsa Drillers within the Texas League. This elevation marked a significant chapter in his baseball journey as he earned the distinction of a starter for the mid-season all-star game and secured a coveted spot on the post-season all-star team. Throughout 126 games with the Drillers, his bat spoke volumes, boasting a .273 batting average alongside 13 home runs and 63 RBIs. Post-season endeavors led him to join the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League, concluding the season with a performance that saw him bat .140/.213/.233.

Alex Verdugo’s prowess extended beyond the domestic stage, as he proudly donned the jersey of the Mexico national baseball team. A notable chapter unfolded in Japan during an exhibition series in November, setting the stage for his participation in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The subsequent year commenced with Alex Verdugo donning the colors of the Oklahoma City Dodgers, where his stellar contributions earned him the recognition of a starter for the mid-season Pacific Coast League all-star team. Additionally, he was chosen to represent the world team at the All-Star Futures Game. Across 117 games with Oklahoma City, his bat remained potent, boasting an impressive .314 batting average.

Alex Verdugo with the Dodgers

Stepping onto the grand stage of the majors for the first time, Alex Verdugo’s ascent occurred on September 1, 2017. That significant day marked his MLB debut as the starting center fielder, facing off against the San Diego Padres. Despite a hitless performance in three at-bats, he displayed promise with a discerning walk. The following day, Alex Verdugo secured his inaugural MLB hit – a well-earned single off Clayton Richard of the Padres. The crescendo of this early career milestone resonated on September 10 when he launched his first major league home run, courtesy of Adam Ottavino from the Colorado Rockies. By the end of 2017, he tallied 15 games with the Dodgers, amassing four hits in 23 at-bats and maintaining a batting line of .174/.240/.304.

The year 2018 unfolded as a banner period for Alex Verdugo, earning the honor to represent the Pacific Coast League at the Triple-A All-Star Game. His prowess also earned him a coveted spot on the post-season all-star team. Amidst 37 appearances for the Dodgers, he exhibited a steady bat with a .260 batting average. The majority of the season, however, saw him donning the colors of the Oklahoma City team, where he impressively notched a .329 batting average.

March 23, 2019, marked another milestone in Alex Verdugo’s career, as he was officially announced as a member of the 2019 Dodgers opening day roster. Throughout the season, he showcased his skills in 106 games, boasting a commendable .294 batting average, along with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Alex Verdugo in Boston

February 10, 2020, marked a pivotal moment in baseball’s chessboard as the Dodgers orchestrated a significant trade. In this strategic exchange, Alex Verdugo, along with Jeter Downs and Connor Wong, found themselves donning the colors of the Boston Red Sox. In return, the Dodgers welcomed the formidable duo of Mookie Betts and David Price, along with some cash considerations. The dynamics of the league were reshaped as this transaction unfolded.

In the pandemic-delayed 2020 season, Alex Verdugo seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the Boston Red Sox. He assumed the role of a regular corner outfielder, showcasing his versatility in 22 left-field appearances and 31 games patrolling right field. Across 53 games with the Red Sox, he left an indelible mark, boasting a .308 batting average, six home runs, and 15 RBIs. Despite these offensive contributions, his fielding percentage, at .959, earned him the statistical distinction of having the lowest among qualified major league outfielders.

The dawn of the 2021 season saw Alex Verdugo firmly established as a linchpin in Boston’s outfield, showcasing his prowess across all three positions. A brief hiatus came in August when he briefly joined the paternity list, only to make a triumphant return on August 13. Over the course of 146 regular-season games for Boston, his bat spoke volumes with a .289 batting average, complemented by 13 home runs and 63 RBIs. The postseason further underscored his mettle, featuring in 11 games where he batted an impressive 13-for-42 (.310). This stellar performance propelled the Red Sox into the coveted American League Championship Series.

Returning to the outfield with Boston in 2022, Alex Verdugo showcased his versatility across 150 games in the outfield, complemented by two appearances as a designated hitter. Throughout this season, he wielded a potent bat, notching a .280 batting average while contributing 11 home runs and 74 RBIs to the team’s offensive arsenal. The commencement of the year 2023 marked a pivotal moment as the Red Sox and Alex Verdugo amicably settled on a one-year contract, sidestepping the need for salary arbitration. His performance during this period reflected a .264/.324/.421 (100 OPS+), featuring 37 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs, and 54 RBIs across 142 games.

In the span of a distinguished seven-year career in the big leagues, Alex Verdugo’s journey unfolded across both the Dodgers (2017-19) and the Red Sox (2020-23). His collective impact is encapsulated in a notable .281/.337/.428 slash line (105 OPS+), marked by 57 homers and 255 RBIs over the course of 651 games.

The baseball landscape underwent seismic shifts on December 5, 2023, as the Red Sox executed a strategic trade, sending Alex Verdugo across to the New York Yankees. In return, the Red Sox secured the services of three right-handed pitchers: Richard Fitts, touted as the Yankees’ No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Greg Weissert, and Nicholas Judice. Notably, this acquisition of Alex Verdugo by the Yankees did not preclude them from pursuing other high-profile moves, with potential swaps involving Juan Soto or signings featuring Cody Bellinger still in consideration. General Manager Brian Cashman articulated his vision, expressing the intent to secure two outfielders to complement Aaron Judge, preferably favoring left-handed hitters. The Yankees’ maneuvers in the market continued to shape the narrative of the league.

Alex Verdugo: 2024 projections

As Alex Verdugo gears up for the 2024 season with the New York Yankees, there are several key aspects to consider regarding his potential impact and adaptation to the team. Verdugo, known for his contact-first approach and latent power, faces a pivotal moment in his career. Following a challenging season that marked his lowest offensive output since 2018, Verdugo’s transition to the Yankees comes with both scrutiny and opportunity.

Verdugo’s past with the Boston Red Sox, characterized by his vibrant personality and public disputes, notably with manager Alex Cora, sets a complex backdrop for his move to the Bronx. His approach at the plate, which has historically leaned towards selectiveness, is under review, with the Yankees exploring ways to harness his raw power more effectively. This shift towards a less selective, more aggressive batting strategy could be key in unlocking Verdugo’s potential, especially considering Yankee Stadium’s favorable conditions for left-handed hitters. The stadium has been identified as having the second-highest weighted on-base average (wOBA) for pulled flyballs from left-handers since 2021, suggesting Verdugo could see an uptick in home runs.

The introduction of SEAGER, a metric measuring the quality of swing decisions, highlights Verdugo’s need for adjustment. His patient approach has not always translated into optimal swing decisions, suggesting that a balance between aggression and selectiveness might be the path forward. This approach aligns with Verdugo’s own acknowledgment of the need for earlier swing decisions to enhance pulled contact, a critical aspect of maximizing his hitting profile in the Yankees’ lineup.

The Yankees’ new hitting coach, James Rowson, is poised to play a significant role in Verdugo’s development. Rowson’s reputation for fostering a positive and supportive environment could be instrumental in Verdugo’s mental and technical adjustments. His approach, praised by players like Byron Buxton for its empowering effect, might be the key to helping Verdugo navigate the pressures of New York and realize his potential.

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

As Verdugo embarks on this new chapter with the Yankees, his relationship with manager Aaron Boone and his adaptation to Rowson’s coaching style will be critical factors. Verdugo’s excitement to work within Boone’s player-centric management style, coupled with his desire for a supportive coaching relationship, underscores the potential for a transformative season. With the right adjustments and support, Verdugo could significantly impact the Yankees, tapping into his game power and refining his approach at the plate to contribute to the team’s success in 2024.

Are the Yankees right to have him in the Bronx? Leave your comment below.

Standard Batting

YearTmGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHSFIBBPos
2017LAD15252314001101240.1740.240.3040.54444710000/H879
2018LAD37867711206014008140.260.3290.3770.7069329401009H7/8
2019LAD1063773434310122212444126490.2940.3420.4750.81711316382061897H
2020BOS5322120136621606154017450.3080.3670.4780.8441239642011*97/H8D
2021BOS1466045448815732213636251960.2890.3510.4260.777107232114056*789/HD
2022BOS1526445937516639111741342860.280.3280.4050.732102240143062*79/DH
2023BOS1426025468114437513545345930.2640.3240.4210.745100230116051*9/H
GPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHSFIBB
7 Yrs65125592327335654152105725520101913870.2810.3370.4280.765105997531712311
162 Game Avg.1626375798316338214635248960.2810.3370.4280.765105248134063
Baseball Reference

Postseason Batting

YearGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTBGDPHBPSHSFIBBWPAcWPA
202114402100300000.50.50.751.253100000.060.70%
20214191936101300020.3160.3160.5260.84210000000.282.80%
20216241925100011510.2630.4170.3160.732600000-0.11-2.70%
GPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTBGDPHBPSHSFIBBWPAcWPA
1 Yr (3 Series)114742513301611530.310.3830.4520.83519100000.230.80%
1 ALWC14402100300000.50.50.751.253100000.060.70%
1 ALDS4191936101300020.3160.3160.5260.84210000000.282.80%
1 ALCS6241925100011510.2630.4170.3160.732600000-0.11-2.70%
Baseball Reference

Career Graph

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