Part of overhauling the New York Yankees‘ outfield included acquiring Boston Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo. The Yankees sent four pitchers in exchange for the 27-year-old heading into the final year of arbitration.
Verdugo’s future is certainly in question beyond the 2024 season, specifically regarding whether the Yankees will consider extending him on a long-term deal. In the meantime, he’s excited to be with the Yankees and spoke to reporters (including ESM’s Ryan Garcia) on Thursday afternoon. Interestingly, he took a few subliminal shots at his former manager, Alex Cora, who aired some of his grievances in the past and even benched him at one point.
Verdugo indicated that instead of publicizing criticisms, the Yankees and manager Aaron Boone protect their players and have their backs.
“Instead of airing people out, have their backs.”
Verdugo is excited to play under Boone‘s management next season, having heard many good things about his style.
“I’m very excited to work with Aaron (Boone). I see how he has his player’s backs. The one that really gets out to me is when he’s like ‘These guys are savages!'”
The young outfielder has had plenty of run-ins with Yankee fans in the past, even getting into a shouting match on a few occasions. Taking a few shots at Cora certainly buys him a bit of stock with fans, but he did reference the hostility and mentioned proving his worth to a faithful base.
“The mindset in New York, how people talk, they’re a little bit more aggressive. They’re kind of straight to the point. I like that, man. I enjoy it.”
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The Yankees Need Verduog to Run Back His Best Season
Verdugo is coming off of a down year with Boston, recording a wRC+ below 100 for the first time since 2018 when he played only 37 games. Last year, he hit .264/.324/.421, hitting 13 homers with 54 RBIs and a 98 wRC+. The hope is that he can replicate a season like 2021 when he hit .289/.351/.426 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs.
Verdugo was also a solid defensive player who featured in 1,170 innings last year with a .990 fielding percentage, nine defensive runs saved, and one out above average. The Yankees can feel confident having him in left field this upcoming year as prospect Jasson Dominguez recovers from Tommy John surgery.