"He's actually been a guy that we've talked about now for, for a while," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday, a day after New York obtained Verdugo for right-handers Greg Weissert, Richard Fitts and Nicholas Judice. "I feel like there's an edge he plays the game with."
"I allow myself to dream on a lot of things," Boone said. "I always start to imagine what it could look like."
The left-handed-hitting Verdugo, 27, batted .264 with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs and a .745 OPS in his fourth season with the Red Sox. A Gold Glove finalist, he had 12 outfield assists and nine defensive runs saved.
He was benched twice last season by Boston manager Alex Cora: on June 8 for not hustling between first and second on a grounder a night earlier and on Aug. 5 for arriving late to the ballpark.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, hired in October, said those issues didn't factor into the trade.
"I didn't get into that stuff with Alex that much," Boone said. "But we hear those things from across the way and stuff, so I'm not overly concerned about that."
A seven-year major league veteran, Verdugo has a .281 career batting average with 57 home runs and 255 RBIs with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Red Sox.
Selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft, Verdugo was acquired by Boston with infielder Jeter Downs and catcher/second baseman Connor Wong in the February 2020 trade that sent slugger Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price to the Dodgers.
Verdugo is eligible for arbitration and is likely to get a salary of about $9 million. He can become a free agent after the World Series.
"He's a guy who takes a lot of pride in posting," Boone said Cora told him.
With Verdugo's addition, Aaron Judge could move from right field and become the regular center fielder.
"We'll see how everything shakes out this winter," Boone said. "I've talked to Aaron about that. So I think Aaron's open to anything and ready for anything."
This was just the eighth trade between the Yankees and Red Sox since Major League Baseball split into divisions in 1969. The Yankees obtained outfielder Greg Allen from Boston in May for right-hander Diego Hernández.
The most notable deals involved the Yankees' 1919 purchase of Babe Ruth, New York getting pitcher Sparky Lyle in 1972 for first baseman Danny Cater and infielder Mario Guerrero, and Boston receiving Elston Howard -- the Yankees' first Black player and the 1963 American League MVP -- in 1967 for pitchers Ron Klimkowski and Pete Magrini.
Weissert, a 28-year-old right-hander who attended Fordham, not far from Yankee Stadium, had a 4.05 ERA in 17 relief appearances over five stints with New York last season. He struck out 22 and walked eight in 20 innings. His fastball averaged 94.3 mph.
Fitts, 23, was a sixth-round pick from Auburn in the 2021 amateur draft and was 11-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 27 starts this year at Double-A Somerset. He struck out 163 and walked 43 in 152⅔ innings.
Judice, 22, was an eighth-round pick last summer from Louisiana-Monroe and has not made his minor league debut.
Boone expects "a leaner" Giancarlo Stanton at spring training. The five-time All-Star hit a career-low .191 with 24 home runs and 60 RBIs in 2023.
"Being at this point in his career, I think being a little lighter is going to be something that serves him well and I think it's something he knows and wants to do," Boone said.