John Tomase

Alex Verdugo trade tells us something important about Craig Breslow

Boston's new chief baseball officer made a bold first move.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Let's just get this out of the way: The Red Sox will never regret trading Alex Verdugo to the Yankees. Ever.

Reaching for the smelling salts over a transaction between hated rivals is an exercise in performative hyperventilation. The two worst teams in the American League East made a deal centered around a thoroughly mediocre player.

As the unimpressed among us used to say -- before you Gen Z rizzlers came along with your skibidi gyats -- big whoop. It's like getting worked up over a White Sox-Royals trade no one will remember at this time next year.

Are the three pitchers coming back to Boston any good? Who cares. They could retire en masse and it wouldn't change that Average Alex's most consistent trait in a Red Sox uniform was his chronic unreliability. I suspect manager Alex Cora is happy to turn the page on the player he annually challenged to make The Leap, only to watch him show up out of shape before finishing with 11 homers and 90 rollovers to second.

But this isn't about Verdugo. Despite being (sigh) the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade, he had no future in Boston. Former Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made zero effort to extend him, and considering the significance of the Betts trade to Bloom's legacy, his inaction spoke eloquently.

This move, then, tells us more about Bloom's successor, Craig Breslow. Breslow has made no secret of his plans to act decisively and aggressively in the big chair, and it took some chutzpah to dial Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman during his first weeks on the job, even if, as we've noted, Verdugo is unlikely to pull an Aaron Nesmith and wreak vengeance on the team that wronged him.

If Bloom's first significant move was trading Betts, there's a symmetry to Breslow beginning his tenure by jettisoning the biggest piece of the return, though we should caution that ditching players acquired by someone else basically qualifies as a freebie.

It's why Dave Dombrowski could cut Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez with little regard for the money John Henry lit on fire, because Ben Cherington stacked that kindling. Likewise, Bloom shrugged and dumped David Price's salary overboard, because that $217 million mistake resided on Dombrowski's ledger.

What's encouraging about this deal is it addresses multiple problems. First, the starting outfield of Verdugo, Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran, and/or Wilyer Abreu was entirely left-handed, so this opens a spot for a right-handed bat, with free agent Lourdes Gurriel a potential target.

Second, the upper levels of the system are devoid of starting pitching prospects, and one of the arms the Red Sox received, Double-A right-hander Richard Fitts, was just named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.

Finally, the Red Sox need to change their culture, and the frequently tardy Verdugo talked a good game about being a trustworthy professional, but he didn't consistently live it.

After four years of watching Bloom hedge every other move, it's nice to see a chief baseball officer act decisively. Removing Verdugo's glove will hurt one of the league's worst defenses, but not irreparably. Youngster Ceddanne Rafaela profiles as a potential Gold Glover in center, and Abreu has the arm to play right. If Breslow really wants to prioritize defense, he can sign free agent center fielder Michael Taylor, a former Gold Glover with the Royals.

There's still much work to do, and when we look back at Breslow's tenure, this move will almost certainly be considered minor. But it's a telling start for the new chief baseball officer, who removed a problem from his roster and didn't mind calling the Yankees to do it.

Contact Us