In Boston — Here’s some direct, unsolicited counsel for the Red Sox: Cease engaging in trades with the Yankees, gentlemen. When you initiate your transaction history by transferring Babe Ruth to The Bronx in exchange for 100 grand and thereby handing your arch-rival a legendary dynasty for mere pennies, you’ll never equalize the stakes, after all. So why bother attempting?

The most recent significant move (though not entirely of that scale!) between the most formidable adversaries in sports history seems very much today like yet another undisputed triumph for New York. Alex Verdugo, who has lived up to expectations and even surpassed them in pinstripes, exacted vengeance on his former team in a remarkable manner in his inaugural game back at Fenway Park.

In his first appearance as a Yankee at this venue, Verdugo smashed the initial pitch he faced into the center-field stands, and subsequently drove in a run with a double off the Green Monster in left field and brought home another run with a single. His noteworthy performance with three hits and four RBIs created a euphoric return and propelled the Yankees to their league-leading 50th win while pushing the Red Sox back to .500.

Alex Verdugo delivered four runs for the Yankees on Friday night. AP
Alex Verdugo smacked a home run against the Red Sox on Friday. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The young individual with the flashy, gem-encrusted chains and unique quotes always possessed a talent for the theatrical, even if he didn’t quite match the value of the homegrown superstar Mookie Betts, whom the Red Sox unwisely shipped to Los Angeles to acquire him (along with a few others).

The exchange of Verdugo to the Yankees will never rank as the Red Sox’s worst trade involving him, as the initial one was truly a monumental blunder — something unforgivable for this sports-crazy city. It also doesn’t qualify as the top deal the Yankees secured at the Winter Meetings, as they also acquired his superstar outfield companion Juan Soto at the same event in Nashville back in December.

Though initially viewed as mainly a reliable left-handed hitter and skilled defender to fill the Yankees’ left-field vacancy in the long run, he has proven to be almost at All-Star caliber. He may not secure an invitation to Arlington, Texas, given that he shares the outfield with the two frontrunners for the MVP title — Aaron Judge and Soto — but after receiving a promotion, he often occupies the cleanup spot in the league’s most potent lineup.

He has excelled at batting (with a .757 OPS), shone in the field, and established himself as the most eloquent speaker on the team. Even while attempting to dispel rumors regarding a purported disagreement with Red Sox manager Alex Cora that led to this fortuitous trade, he does so with color.

“Me and him, we’re fine. We’re good,” Verdugo mentioned of Cora before the Yankees’ 8-1 triumph. “Our families get along. Our kids are friends. Off the field, we have no issues at all. We clashed a few times. And that’s all right. Not everyone will always see eye to eye. But honestly, I hold nothing but respect for AC.”

Concluding his statement after providing an extensive explanation, he settled with, “That’s the extent of what I wish to mention about AC.”

Deal.

Concerning his move to New York in baseball terms, after a few days of discontent, he came to realize he was joining a “remarkable organization,” and thus, he familiarized himself by shearing off one of his wilder beards and permitting a new one to grow. He promptly revealed a youthful countenance, and eventually, an intense determination.

Verdugo, who jubilantly gestured while circling the bases following his first-inning homer off Brayan Bello, arrived with sterling endorsements. Not just anyone, but Judge admired his game over the past couple of years. The same goes for Aaron Boone. Apparently, every opportunity Boone had, he nudged GM Brian Cashman in favor of Verdugo.

“I believed he would bring a dimension that we lacked and definitely could utilize. So, I was elated to acquire him,” Boone expressed. “However, I believe he has exceeded expectations.”

Brian Cashman’s choice to trade for Alex Verdugo has been fruitful thus far. Charles Wenzelberg

Cashman garnered attention for his outburst at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., staunchly (and slightly profanely) defending himself and his staff following what he characterized as a catastrophic 2023 season. Subsequently, a month later, he orchestrated perhaps the most successful week of a career that’s rich in history (apparently, it has now been immortalized in a book, so I’ve heard).

It’s understandable that the rivals don’t engage in many transactions with each other. The trade of Verdugo for a relief pitcher and two modestly ranked (at best) minor leaguers was intriguing but was promptly overshadowed by the acquisition of the incomparable Soto.

We can safely infer this was likely the best offer the Red Sox could secure for a player who had an average season in 2023, is set to become a free agent after 2024, and had acquired a reputation (deserved or otherwise) for tardiness. The rivalry may not hold the same intensity as before, but it’s probable that the Red Sox still prefer conducting their trades with others.

Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Aaron Judge celebrate the Yankees’ triumph against the Red Sox on Friday. Getty Images

We could also assume that the Red Sox’s new leadership team is well-versed in their responsibilities. While they may not pose a threat to the AL East this time, they’ve done a commendable job with pitchers and young talents, and they likely made the informed decision to exhibit some restraint in this round of free agency. They primarily avoided pursuing major acquisitions, with the closest exception being that infamous Zoom call with Jordan Montgomery, who has struggled in the desert with the Diamondbacks.

Indeed, Boston’s fresh baseball management team had an exceptional winter, barring one significant misstep.