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Red Sox trade Alex Verdugo to Yankees for prospects

BOSTON -- After four seasons in Boston, Alex Verdugo's tenure with the Red Sox has come to an end.

Boston traded Verdugo to the rival New York Yankees. The Red Sox are receiving a pair of pitching prospects -- Richard Fitts and Nicholas Judice -- as well as minor league pitcher Greg Weissert in return for Verdugo. 

The 27-year-old Verdugo, who has one season of arbitration left before hitting free agency in 2025, was the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade in 2020. He played in 493 regular-season games in Boston, batting .281 with a .761 OPS. He also played in 11 playoff games, all in the 2021 postseason, when he batted .310 with an .835 OPS. He was a Gold Glove finalist this past season for his defensive work in right field.

Verdugo has had his ups and downs in Boston, including two occasions in the 2023 season when he was benched by manager Alex Cora. Now, Verdugo will head to New York to play in the Bronx, where he once had a ball thrown at him by a Yankees fan.

Fitts is a 23-year-old righty who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 draft out of Auburn. He pitched in Double-A last season, going 11-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.140 WHIP while striking out 163 batters in 152.2 innings.

Judice is a 22-year-old righty who was drafted in the eighth round of last year's draft out of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He's yet to make his professional debut, as he went 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA last year in college. He made three appearances for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod Baseball League this past summer, allowing seven earned runs in 12.1 innings of work.

The 28-year-old Weissert has reached the big leagues in his career, going 3-0 with a 4.60 ERA in 29 appearances (31.1 innings) over the past two seasons. He's pitched in the Yankees' minor league system since 2016, and he maintained an ERA of 1.64 in 2021 in Double-A and Triple-A and 1.69 in 2022 in Triple-A.

The deal can be added to the rare list of trades between the Red Sox and Yankees. In 2021, the Yankees traded Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox, a deal that was made seven years after the Red Sox traded Stephen Drew to New York. The Drew trade broke a 17-year gap of trades involving the two teams, dating back to the 1997 swap that sent Mike Stanley to New York and Tony Armas Jr. to Boston. Armas was later used in the trade package to Montreal when the Red Sox acquired Pedro Martinez. 

Verdugo believed he deserved a spot on the American League All-Star team this past season, and his name was brought up quite a bit in reports and rumors before the trade deadline. He wasn't traded, but new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow said during the offseason that teams had been calling to ask about the outfielder's availability. One of those teams, it would appear, was the Yankees.

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