Betts is a generational talent, and arguably the second-best player in baseball.
The Red Sox enjoyed every bit of their six years with Betts, winning the 2018 World Series as one of the most dominant teams in MLB history.
Betts was the American League MVP that season, a year in which he led the league in batting (.346), slugging (.640) and WAR (10.7).
The accolades never end: Betts has been a top two MVP finisher three times, a top eight MVP finisher five times, a Gold Glover five times, and a Silver Slugger four times.
Keep in mind, he’s only completed six full seasons at the Major League level.
The Red Sox traded Betts with an eye on the future, as counterintuitive as that may seem.
The fear was that the team would not be able to retain Mookie in free agency, although the Red Sox were clearly not ready to financially make a competitive offer for whatever reason.
Regardless, Chaim Bloom—the newly welcomed Chief Baseball Officer—was welcomed to Boston with a tall ask from ownership: trading Betts away.
Verdugo was the biggest prize in the return for Boston, and he’s been nothing short of phenomenal since the trade.
Verdugo with Boston
In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, fans were only able to get a taste of Verdugo for 53 games, but he did not disappoint.
Verdugo batted .308 with an .844 OPS and 126 OPS+ to compliment a 2.2 WAR, which levels out to a 6.7 WAR pace over a full 162.
His energy was infectious, bringing a spark and identity to the team which was desperately needed.
Verdugo showed up on at least one MVP ballot, finishing 12th in the race.
This year, he’s been virtually the same player.
The 25-year-old is batting .288 with an .808 OPS.
He’s one of the best offensive players on a Red Sox team that prides itself in scoring runs.
The Red Sox have scored 6+ runs 18 times this season. They’ve won 17 of those games.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) May 20, 2021
While trading away the face of the franchise is an impossible pill to swallow, Verdugo has done an excellent job filling Betts’ shoes.
With a strong second half, Verdugo may receive MVP votes again, which is no small feat.
Replacing a perennial MVP candidate (Betts) with a player capable of showing up on the back half of some MVP ballots (Verdugo) is an absolute win when you consider the fact that Betts might have left the Red Sox in free agency whether he was traded or not.
Alex Verdugo will never be Mookie Betts, but he is becoming a star in his own right.
Alex Verdugo is the most underrated player in baseball. The fans who think Boston got robbed in the Mookie Betts trade have no idea what they are talking about.
— Dominic Stearn (@dmstearn19) April 14, 2021
The first-place Red Sox would not be the same club without him.
Verdugo has never appeared in a postseason game, but if Boston cracks the playoffs this year, it would be a treat to watch Verdugo carry his intensity and flare into October on the biggest stage.