- Tim Burke
What is Alex Verdugo's Future in Boston?
Alex Verdugo is at an interesting point in his career. The 27-year-old outfielder was acquired in the Mookie Betts deal and has been the most significant player Boston has received in the infamous trade. Throughout his three seasons with the Red Sox, Verdugo has played solid baseball. Verdugo has the hit tool to become a difference-maker with excellent contact skills and the ability to hit the ball all over the field. Unfortunately, Verdugo has not established himself as an All-Star caliber player due to inconsistency at the plate. When asked what players need to take a step forward in 2023, Red Sox Manager replied, Alex Verdugo. Cora elaborated by saying, "He's getting to that area in his career that's, 'Who is he gonna be?' We talked about this with (Andrew Benintendi) a few years ago, right?" Benintendi." Since leaving Boston, Benintendi has found more success, winning a Gold Glove in 2021 and being selected to his first All-Star game in 2022. After a strong 2022, where he had a career-high.305 batting average, Bennitnedi earned a five-year 75 million dollar contract with the Chicago White Sox. Will Verdugo find the same success? He certainly has the ability to take a major leap forward in 2023. Verdugo's former Dodger teammate Justin Turner joining the Red Sox may benefit the Red Sox Right Fielder. Justin Turner has played in the Major leagues for fourteen seasons. During that time, he experienced many highs and lows, but he developed himself into one of the best hitters in the sport. Very few players are as knowledgeable about hitting as Justin Turner. Turner is in Boston to be a clubhouse leader and mentor to the younger guys on the Red Sox. These younger players can learn a lot from Justin Turner. Especially ones like Verdugo who are looking to take the next step in their careers.
I would not be surprised to see the Red Sox trade Alex Verdugo. It would be an unpopular move as Verdugo is the best asset the Red Sox acquired in the Betts trade, and it would only fuel the angry mob that Red Sox Nation has become this off-season. However, if the Red Sox want to significantly improve their roster before Opening Day, they must make a trade. The Free Agent market is thin. Beyond Jean Segura and Nate Eovaldi, few Free Agents can make a big impact.
On December 23rd, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Toronto Blue Jays made a trade that paints a clearer picture of the trade market will shape up this offseason. The Blue Jays acquired Outfielder Daulton Varsho from Arizona in exchange for catcher Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. This is quite the return for Arizona. Gurriel is a solid outfielder, and Moreno was the 7th best prospect in baseball in 2022. Toronto dealt their catching surplus for a talented outfielder. Like Verdugo, Varsho is 26; both players posted a similar OPS+ Varsho with 109 and Verdugo with 102. However, Varsho is the more athletic player, the better defender, and possesses more power and speed than Verdugo. That being said, Verdugo is the more complete hitter, with the contact skills Varsho lacks. As of today, Varsho is the better player as he possesses more talent, but Verdugo has more potential. There is another level Alex Verdugo can reach in 2023 and beyond.
Given the extremely high return for Varsho, who is slightly better than Verdugo at the moment, exploring a Verdugo trade may be wise. Adding an above-average everyday outfielder in Gourriel Jr. and a highly touted prospect in Moreno is a win for the Diamondbacks in the long term. Nothing is more valuable than having a strong catcher; Arizona will have that in Moreno. A trade like this does make you wonder what the Red sox could get in return for Alex Verdugo. Given the lack of left-handed hitters and outfielders available this offseason, the Red Sox can get a strong return for Verdugo. Many believe Masataka Yoshida profiles as a similar hitter to both Benintendi and Verdugo. Given that the Red Sox signed Yoshida to a five-year 90 million dollar contract, Boston's front office believes Yoshida will be better than Verdugo and Benintendi. Why carry two left-handed hitting outfielders? Especially when both players rely upon their hit tool to make up for their subpar defense. The Red Sox reportedly want to avoid trading rookies Bryan Bello and Tristian Casas or top prospects Marcelo Mayer and Ceddanne Rafaela. Given the cost of buying talent in this market, Alex Verdugo may be the most realistic trade chip for the Red Sox. But does Boston want to give up on Verdugo? He has the talent to be an All-Star and a difference-maker for them. It would take a lot for the Red Sox to trade Verdugo. But trading him makes a lot of sense for the organization's future.