Yankees’ underappreciated outfielder is helping pick up the offense

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Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the spotlight has largely been on Juan Soto and his explosive start with the New York Yankees, the team’s secondary acquisition, Alex Verdugo, is also making significant waves. Being moved to the cleanup spot has not only marked a pivotal role for Verdugo but also signified his rising prominence within the team.

Alex Verdugo Steps Up in the Cleanup Role

At 27, Verdugo is in a contract year, playing out the final year of arbitration with a salary of $8.7 million and likely aiming for a lucrative deal in the free agency. Coming off a previous season where he batted .264 with a .324 on-base percentage, including 13 homers and 54 RBIs, Verdugo has continued to impress. Over 33 games this season, he’s hitting .261/.353/.417, with four homers, 13 RBIs, and has notably refined his plate discipline to a 10.3% strikeout rate and 12.5% walk rate, achieving a 124 wRC+.

MLB: New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers, alex verdugo
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Verdugo’s Role and Future With the Yankees

Verdugo’s ability to make consistent contact and his elite plate discipline have been standout features of his performance. Despite ranking in the lower percentiles for barrel rate and hard-hit rate, his skill set isn’t just about power-hitting but also contributing effectively with runners in scoring positions. He’s on track to surpass his career-high of 13 home runs, potentially reaching 15 this season, while also achieving a double-digit walk rate for the first time in his career.

Defensively, Verdugo has been just as reliable, playing 287.2 innings in left field and maintaining a perfect fielding percentage, with four defensive runs saved and two outs above average. His defensive contributions, combined with his offensive production, put him on pace to reach a 4+ WAR season, which would represent tremendous value for the Yankees.

MLB: New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers, alex verdugo
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

As Verdugo continues to set personal bests in multiple categories, his market value is likely to increase, potentially pricing the Yankees out of a future contract, especially as they focus on securing a long-term extension for Soto. The team is likely considering replacements such as Spencer Jones or Jasson Dominguez for the future.

For the remainder of the season, the Yankees will capitalize on Verdugo’s performance, hoping his contributions will play a crucial part in realizing their World Series aspirations.

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