Yankees’ Aaron Judge pushed front office to acquire new outfielder

mlb: los angeles dodgers at boston red sox, alex verdugo, yankees
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees‘ Aaron Judge has emerged not just as a key player on the field but also as an influential figure in shaping the team’s roster, demonstrating leadership qualities that extend beyond his performance as a superstar slugger. His proactive involvement in the team’s acquisition decisions underscores his commitment to the Yankees’ success.

Judge Advocates for Verdugo’s Acquisition

Judge played a pivotal role in the Yankees’ offseason move to acquire outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox, highlighting his vested interest in the team’s composition and competitive edge.

Verdugo, who was acquired several months ago in exchange for a number of pitchers, stated on Thursday that Judge was pushing for him to be added this off-season. Even first baseman Anthony Rizzo was dropping hints when Verdugo was on base this past year, and it seemed as if both teams came to an agreement that benefited their long-term interests.

“Rizzo was dropping hints at me at first base during the year. I was just telling him, ‘Nah, no way, man, no way.’ As soon as I came over here, Rizz was like, ‘I told you so!’”

Verdugo’s arrival addresses the Yankees’ urgent need for stability and productivity in left field.

At 27, Verdugo is approaching free agency after the final year of arbitration, with a salary of $8.7 million. Despite a recent dip in on-base percentage, Verdugo’s solid contact skills and potential for high batting averages make him a valuable addition to the Yankees, particularly as they aim to improve their offensive stats.

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Verdugo’s Potential Impact

Verdugo’s offensive capabilities, characterized by a .264/.324/.421 batting line and a career-high tie of 13 home runs last season suggest room for improvement in Yankee Stadium’s hitter-friendly confines. His pull rate and the prospect of increased flyballs hint at a promising season ahead, with potential for a career-best in home runs.

Defensively, Verdugo’s contributions are equally significant. With 1,170 innings played last season, his .990 fielding percentage, nine defensive runs saved, and one out above average highlight his reliability and potential to solidify the Yankees’ defense in left field—a position that has been a point of concern in recent years.

Boosting the Yankees’ Performance

The Yankees, with Judge at the forefront of strategic player acquisitions, are poised to address their offensive and defensive challenges.

Verdugo’s addition, largely influenced by Judge’s advocacy, is expected to enhance the team’s batting average and secure the left field position, aligning with the team’s goals for the upcoming season. Judge’s active involvement in roster decisions underscores his leadership and dedication to the Yankees, promising an exciting and potentially transformative season ahead.

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