Yankees avoided huge trade mistake with Red Sox

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were in the midst of some eye-raising trade talks, according to rumors that recently surfaced. Chris Henrique, the founder of @BeyondtheMnstr, shed light on a potential trade discussion between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The alleged deal would have shipped Alex Verdugo to the Bronx in exchange for starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt. However, most experts would agree that this would have been a lopsided transaction favoring Boston.

Evaluating Alex Verdugo: Good But Not Great

Verdugo, who is currently 27 years old, boasts a .271 batting average and a .331 OBP in the current season. He’s also notched 13 homers and 54 RBIs, alongside a 14.7% strikeout rate and a 7.4% walk rate. His wRC+ stands at 103. While he’s slightly above average offensively and holds a decent 2.3 WAR with commendable defensive metrics, Verdugo doesn’t exactly plug any gaping holes for the Yankees. He does offer some positional flexibility, capable of covering all three outfield spots, although he primarily plays right field.

Contractual Matters: A One-Year Rental Risk

Adding another layer to this complex issue, Verdugo will be under team control for just one more year before hitting free agency in 2025. If this deal had gone through, the Yankees would have relinquished one of their coveted, high-upside pitchers for a relatively short-term gain. While general manager Brian Cashman has not been averse to such deals in the past, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner wisely pulled the plug on the discussions before they could materialize.

The Promise of Clarke Schmidt: A Future Asset for the Yankees

When you turn the lens towards Clarke Schmidt, it becomes increasingly clear why this trade would have been a poor decision. Schmidt, also 27, won’t enter free agency until 2028, giving him substantial time to blossom. His current statistics are promising: across 146 innings, Schmidt has a 4.56 ERA, 4.26 xFIP, and 8.75 strikeouts per nine innings. Additional metrics like a 69.5% left-on-base rate and a 44.3% ground ball rate add to his value.

The Ups and Downs: Schmidt’s Season Performance

Schmidt’s season has certainly been a rollercoaster. He showed strong potential in May and June with an ERA below 3.52. However, his performance wavered in August, where his ERA ballooned to 5.16. Despite these fluctuations, the Yankees have shown patience with him, as he’s still in his inaugural year as a starting pitcher.

What’s Ahead: The Impending Rotation Gap

As the regular season winds down, Schmidt is expected to make two more starts for the Yankees. These outings offer him a platform to further his development and end the season on a high note. Had Cashman pulled the trigger on the Verdugo deal, he would’ve likely rued the day, especially considering the probable exits of Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, and Domingo German in the upcoming off-season.

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