Damn, Craig, what a way to make your first significant move in charge of a Major League Baseball team.
Earlier tonight, the Red Sox finalized a trade, shipping out embattled right fielder Alex Verdugo. That wasn’t particularly surprising — they have more outfielders than outfield positions on the roster right now and Verdugo’s time in Boston seemed to have run its course.
What is surprising is . . . literally everything else about the deal:
BREAKING: The New York Yankees are acquiring outfielder Alex Verdugo in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for right-handeres Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert and Nicholas Judice, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2023
Wow — an extremely rare Red Sox-Yankees deal right off the bat.
This is a trade that raises more questions than it answers:
- Are the Yankees out on Soto now that they have a new outfielder, or will Verdugo be packaged to San Diego?
- The Sox wouldn’t trade a talented (if inconsistent) starter for prospects to THE NEW YORK YANKEES unless it was going to precede something much bigger, right?
- Is Richard Fitts going to be a darkhorse candidate for the back of the rotation next year? He’s not considered a top prospect (he was #12 in the Yankees system according to MLB.com) but, statistically, he was one of the best pitchers in the AA Eastern League last year. He’ll start the year at AAA, and he’ll probably be ahead of Shane Drohan on the depth chart. And if Craig Breslow likes him, then I’m intrigued.
- After a season in which the Sox offense was almost definitionally league average (14th in OPS+), what does Breslow plan to do to improve the lineup now that two of last season’s top performers are gone?
- And what about the defense? Verdugo was probably the best defender on the team last year (or he can arm wrestle Connor Wong for the title). The Sox can’t afford to get any worse in the field, can they?
- Is Alex Verdugo going to try to get Aaron Judge to give him #99? I feel like that’s the type of thing he might do.
- And he’s going to hit 20 home runs on that Bronx Community Little League diamond, isn’t he?
- It’s clear that Craig Breslow isn’t just focused on acquiring pitching at the MLB level — he wants to aggressively resupply the pipeline right now. How will he balance that with improving the MLB team?
- Is this a vote of confidence for Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, or both?
- Are Richard Fitts’ parents the funniest damn people on the planet? They have to be close, right?
This really feels like the beginning of something, and I can’t wait to find out what it is.
But whatever happens next, there sure is something poetic about Chaim Bloom having started his tenure as the Chief Baseball Officer of the Boston Red Sox by trading Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, and Craig Breslow, almost four years later, starting his tenure by ridding the team of the centerpiece the deal.