Yankees, Red Sox make rare trade. Is a Juan Soto deal next?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox swung a trade for only the eighth time in the last 54 years Tuesday night with the Yankees acquiring outfielder Alex Verdugo for three pitching prospects.

The trade not only gives the Yankees a veteran outfielder they badly need, but this could put the pressure on the San Diego Padres to lower their asking price for All-Star Juan Soto.

Yes, according to a high-ranking Yankees executive, the Yankees still want Soto. The executive spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

The Yankees are sending right-handed pitchers Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert and Nicholas Judice to the Red Sox for Verdugo.

Verdugo, 27, hit .264 last season with 13 homers, 54 RBI and a career-high 55 extra-base hits. He’s one of only two major-league players to strike out less than 100 times in each of the past three seasons, joining Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez. He would play in right field, moving Aaron Judge to center field … if the Yankees acquire Soto to play left field.

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Fitts, 23, was the best prospect in the trade, ranked 12th among Yankees prospects. He went 18-13 with a 3.57 ERA in two minor league seasons.

Verdugo was the primary piece in the Red Sox’s ill-fated trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers three years ago. Verdugo never became the star the Red Sox envisioned, hitting .281 with 43 homers and 206 RBI in 493 games with Boston.

The trade of Verdugo, who was projected to earn $9 million, perhaps clears salary room for free-agent outfielder Lourdes Gurriel, who is coveted by the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, after finishing 25th in the major leagues in runs last season, the Yankees still are willing to spend more to acquire Soto, who’s scheduled to earn about $33 million after salary arbitration. Yet, they are balking at the Padres’ asking price of seven players (pitchers Michael King, Clarke Schmidt, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vasquez, Jhony Brito and two prospects), in addition to taking on center fielder Trent Grisham and his projected $6 million salary.

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