The New York Yankees have been on the hunt for left-handed hitting outfielders since the offseason got underway. Names such as Juan Soto and Cody Bellinger are the ones that have seemingly been the most connected to them. General manager Brian Cashman finally acquired a left-handed hitting outfielder on Tuesday night, but it was neither of those players.
It was Alex Verdugo of the Boston Red Sox. In a rare swap between these two teams, the Bombers sent a trio of pitching prospects to Boston — Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert and Nicholas Judice — in exchange for the outfielder, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Because Yankee fans have been waiting for New York to do something to supplement its offense, this was probably some distressing news. Does it mean the pursuit of Soto (or Bellinger) is done? This can't possibly be the lineup upgrade they were looking for, right?
Verdugo is a solid player and had a decent 2023 season with the Red Sox. He hit .264/.324/.421 with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs and 81 runs scored in 546 plate appearances. The Yankees could use that kind of production, but it'd be much better if they also put Soto in the same lineup as Aaron Judge.
After breaking the news about this trade, Passan followed it up by saying the Yankees should still be trying to find common ground with the San Diego Padres regarding Soto:
The acquisition of Alex Verdugo should not take the Yankees out of the Juan Soto sweepstakes. New York has sought left-handed outfield bats, and Soto is the best one in MLB. You don't stop chasing stars.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2023
As of Wednesday morning, SNY's Andy Martino is reporting that talks between the Yankees and Padres are still happening and he detects some optimism.
Good morning. Juan Soto to Yankees talks are ongoing and I sense optimism.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 6, 2023
This is a significant change from over the weekend as well. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported Sunday that trade talks had stalled between San Diego and New York, mostly because the Padres' ask was seven players deep:
The Yankees and Padres' trade talks are at a complete stalemate, with the Yankees saying the Padres' request of 7 players for All-Star outfielder Juan Soto is unrealistic:
And taking CF Trent Grisham
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2023
Which side has softened its stance to get talks moving in an encouraging direction? One would imagine it'd have to be the Padres. Soto is a generational player, but the acquiring team would only get him for one year with no guarantee of the outfielder signing a long-term extension. But, then again, it's anyone's guess at this point.
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