5 candidates for Red Sox to replace Alex Verdugo

The Red Sox face a difficult decision as they navigate free agency, the trade market, and their existing roster
Sep 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) points to
Sep 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) points to / Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
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Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Gurriel represents a promising, well-rounded candidate for the Red Sox. The 30-year-old is fresh off a solid season with the Diamondbacks that saw him post positive oWAR and dWAR for the first time in his career.

Through 145 games last year, Gurriel slashed .261/.309/.463 with a .282 BABIP, 106 wRC+, and 24 homers. He doesn’t draw an awful lot of walks, but he also keeps his strikeout rate in check. Quite simply, he puts balls in play and can be a reliable bat in the top half of the lineup.

The biggest concern pertaining to Gurriel is his defensive versatility. The only outfield position he’s ever played is left field, and although he has logged more than 3,500 big-league innings there, it’s unlikely he could or would shift to right. So while the Red Sox could absolutely replace Verdugo’s bat with the likes of Gurriel, they’d still be left with a hole in the outfield.

Teoscar Hernandez

If money wasn’t an issue, Hernandez would easily be the best candidate to replace Verdugo. The 31-year-old is regarded as this offseason’s best free agent right fielder and has enjoyed extensive success over eight seasons with the Astros, Blue Jays, and Mariners.

Through 160 games with Seattle last season, Hernandez slashed .258/.305/.435. He took nearly five times more strikeouts than walks but balanced out his offensive profile with 26 homers and 93 RBI. Over the last three years, Hernandez has launched 83 home runs. With an average rate of one home run every 5.1 games, he goes yard nearly as often as Rafael Devers (one per 4.9).

Hernandez also plays a solid right field, posting 5.0 UZR at the position in 2023. He provided enough defensive value that Seattle deployed him as their right fielder for 1,160.1 innings, which was the most he had ever spent at one position in a single season.

It’s no secret that Hernandez is going to be expensive, but if the Red Sox want to address this need for several years to come, there’s no one better.