Yankees’ Alex Verdugo looks for fresh start in first press conference

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays, alex verduog, yankees
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Showing off a freshly-shaven face, Alex Verdugo spoke to the media for the first time since his trade from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees. Faced with questions about his play, reaction to the trade, and even tough questions about his tenure with the Red Sox, Verdugo laid it all out in his first media availability session with the team. This will be a huge year for the 27-year-old outfielder, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he knows he’ll have to prove himself this season to secure a multi-year deal.

With an extremely honest demeanor in this presser, there was plenty to discuss as Alex Verdugo introduced himself to the fans and media.

Alex Verdugo Talks About Time in Boston and Future With the Yankees

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Aug 18, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo (99) hits a double in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Just moving into his new house following the trade, Alex Verdugo wasn’t shy about how he reacted to being traded to the Yankees initially. He mentioned being upset that the Red Sox would trade him to their rival, and he spent the day following disgruntled with the situation, but when players like Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton all reached out, things smoothed over rather quickly. Verdugo emphasized wanting a “fresh start” in the Bronx, as he looks to bring his skillset to the Bronx and win over the fanbase.

“When they see me play everyday…they’ll like what they see”

Alex Verdugo seemed excited to join the organization, and Aaron Boone was a huge reason why he was excited to get things started in New York. When asked about the benchings by Alex Cora last season, Verdugo mentioned that veterans across the league reached out in support, but also mentioned that he’s excited to work with Aaron Boone because of “the way he has his players’ backs”, citing the moment where Aaron Boone yelled at an umpire in 2019 that the Yankees were “savages” in the box.

“Instead of airing people out, have their backs”

He also mentioned that the Red Sox were in a rebuild mode when he was there, complimenting Chaim Bloom’s ability to build up the farm system but also mentioning that the Red Sox essentially scapegoated him when the team didn’t perform. Verdugo expressed frustration that the team would often not go for it, opting to sell and restock their farm instead, but clarified that he believes they’ll contend and make additions to improve their roster in 2024. Putting that past behind him, Verdugo is excited to pick the brains of his running mates in the outfield.

When asked about his feelings regarding sharing an outfield with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, Verdugo mentioned that he wants to help get on base for the two dynamic bats, also looking to observe how they play and prepare to self-improve. Part of that improvement seems to be adding a bit more strength and getting more out in front to the ball in an attempt to pull the ball and take advantage of the short porch in right field more, and while he still believes his bat-to-ball skills are valuable, he added that they can be a detriment when he generates soft contact.

From 2021-2023, Statcast’s Expected Home Run metric believes Verdugo would have had 13 more home runs added to his total had he played at Yankee Stadium, and it’s expected that he’ll hit for a bit more power in the Bronx. Verdugo also mentioned wanting to add more strength this winter and sustain it throughout the season, perhaps a subtle hint at his sudden drop-off in power during the second half of the 2023 season.

MLB: Game Two-New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Sep 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo (99) makes a catch for an out during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are going to rely on Alex Verdugo to do a lot of different things for them next season defensively and offensively, and Verdugo seems ready to get a fresh start and fill in where needed. He has something to prove, just as the organization does following a rough 2023 season. Both parties know how important 2024 is for their futures, but for right now, Verdugo is taking in a new outlook and a new team, as he aims to help the Yankees bring home their 28th World Series Title.