Alex Verdugo shades Red Sox and Dodgers in eye-opening comments

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 24: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after an out against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game at Tropicana Field on April 24, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 24: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after an out against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game at Tropicana Field on April 24, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

Like many of his Boston Red Sox teammates, Alex Verdugo doesn’t sound happy.

With a last-place finish for the second time in three years, it’s not hard to see why, especially for someone whose name will forever be cemented in baseball history books as part of the Mookie Betts trade.

Harry Frazee’s Babe Ruth trade had “No, No, Nanette,” the Betts trade has Verdugo.

The young outfielder has attempted to carve out an identity for himself in Boston that isn’t ‘the guy they got in the Mookie trade,’ but it’s clearly weighing on him in light of how this season turned out. In a conversation with the Boston Globe (subscription required) earlier this weekend, Verdugo had a lot to say about his current and former teams:

"“It’s the Dodgers, bro. They already have a really good team. They already solidified most of their pieces. And you know, adding Mookie Betts just increases it. It only makes that team better. But when Mookie Betts is on the injured list they’re still winning ball games. But when he’s obviously healthy and back, it just takes them up, just takes them that step better.”"

Given the avalanche of injuries that derailed this Sox season, the comment seems more than a bit pointed. At various points throughout the year, the Dodgers were without several key players, including Betts, Clayton Kershaw, and since mid-June, Walker Buehler. And yet, they’ve won 110 games, the second-most by a National League team ever, and the most in their league since the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Meanwhile, the Sox are 75-84 and mathematically guaranteed to finish last in their division.

Alex Verdugo questions validity of Dodgers’ 60-game season and World Series ring

The Dodgers and Red Sox are really separated by only two things, but they are significant: the former has a better farm system and they’re happy to pay their stars. These two divergences are the key reasons for the vastly different outcomes for each organization since the trade. Boston is set to finish in last place for the second time in three years; Los Angeles hasn’t missed the postseason since 2013, and they won the World Series in their first season with Betts.

On that note, Verdugo also had an interesting take on the Dodgers’ most recent championship:

"“A 60-game season, it’s still hard to judge to this day. Like yeah, it’s a World Series, right? Yeah, they got a ring. But they didn’t play any games at their home field. They didn’t. There weren’t any fans there. It was 60 games. Anybody could ball out for 60 games. That extra 102 is a big difference. They won it, it’s a true one, for what we call it. But I still call it as I see it, it’s still a 60-gamer.”"

The topic of the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series ring, their first since 1988, was debated long before they even won. As soon as MLB announced the regular season would consist of only 60 games, many questioned the validity of a championship won in such an anomalous season.

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, so there is some validity to the claim that blazing through the postseason after only having to play well for 60 games made it easier for the Dodgers. In between their 1988 and 2020 championships, they appeared in the postseason 13 times without taking home the prize. 2020 was their eighth consecutive division title and third pennant in four years, but the only time they went all the way.

On the other hand, winning a World Series during one of the most turbulent and unprecedented times in the history of humanity is a feat in its own way. As Red Sox fans saw in 2013, the ability to triumph amidst tragedy is a great and meaningful accomplishment. Besides, if “anybody could ball out for 60 games,” why didn’t the Red Sox? Or any of the other 28 teams without what some call a “Mickey Mouse” ring.

While Verdugo isn’t saying anything factually untrue, it doesn’t really make sense for him to disqualify the 2020 championship based on things that were out of LA’s control. It’s fair to say that only having to be good for 60 games makes things easier; it’s not fair to devalue the accomplishment because a global pandemic kept fans out of the stands and truncated the season.

And since he’s a former Dodger, the comments also sound like sour – albeit justified – grapes. The same way it stung for Sox fans to watch Betts win a ring in his first year with a new team, it must have stung for Verdugo to miss out on getting one because he got traded. None of this can be easy to be him; he arrived in Boston under the worst circumstances and has been compared to the man he unwittingly switched places with ever since.

Still, he does himself no favors by faulting his former team for things beyond their control.