Mookie Betts

Red Sox' Alex Verdugo bristles at notion of 'replacing' Mookie Betts

Red Sox' Alex Verdugo bristles at notion of 'replacing' Mookie Betts

Alex Verdugo has some big shoes to fill after trading places with Mookie Betts. Just don't tell that to Alex Verdugo.

The Red Sox right fielder was the only major-league-level player the Los Angeles Dodgers sent to Boston in their offseason trade for Betts and David Price.

Considering he and Betts play the same position, it's natural to wonder how Verdugo feels about taking over for one of the best right fielders in Red Sox history. 

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But after hitting two home runs and robbing a Blue Jays long ball in Boston's 5-3 win over Toronto on Friday, the 24-year-old didn't want to hear his name alongside Betts'.

"I’m not replacing him," Verdugo told reporters, via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "Yeah, he played here but this is a game. This is a business. He decided to go elsewhere. I’m not replacing him. That’s what you guys say; that’s what everybody else says.

"I’m going out there and playing right field. I’m playing my game. I don’t think about Mookie."

Verdugo views Betts as a "great player" who's "going to do a lot" for the Dodgers. But the fourth-year outfielder already seems tired of the comparisons to his predecessor. 

"It’s not a comparable thing. I don’t like comparing it," Verdugo said. "I don’t like when people bring it up, but obviously the nature of the trade, it’s going to happen. People are going to say it.

"I’m going to play my game, I’m going to go out there and compete and bring the energy that I bring. That’s how I’ve always been and I don’t care about shoes to fill, anything like that. I’m playing my game."

Verdugo indeed plays with an energy that's rare to find in Major League Baseball, and his stats to date are matching that energy: He's hitting .294 with three home runs, four RBIs and a .297 OPS through 11 games with the Red Sox.

Of course, Betts is enjoying a stronger start for the Dodgers: .307 with three homers, seven RBIs and a .983 OPS. But don't mention those numbers to Verdugo, who's out to define his own legacy rather than to try to soften the blow of Boston trading its franchise cornerstone.

Ex-Red Sox not named Mookie Betts off to lackluster starts across MLB

Ex-Red Sox not named Mookie Betts off to lackluster starts across MLB

Chaim Bloom had no choice but to deal Mookie Betts. The rest of the players he walked away from this winter were of his own volition, however, and on that front, it looks like he made some good calls.

Bloom elected to keep first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has already blasted three homers while slugging .762.

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Here's a quick check-in with the four others who played a regular role in recent years but are now elsewhere. (And Betts, for the record, is hitting .289 with an .880 OPS, though he has missed two games with a finger injury).

David Price

Bloom traded Price to the Dodgers alongside Betts in a salary dump. We won't know if he made the right call until Price returns to action next season, because he became the highest-profile player to opt out of the 2020 season after the pandemic hit.

That decision likely saved the Red Sox the roughly $6 million they owed of his prorated salary this year. Had he remained in Boston, there's no reason to think he still wouldn't have opted out, so the Red Sox were lucky to get something for him first.

Rick Porcello

Hoo boy. The Mets gave Porcello one year and $10 million, and some believed the Red Sox should've ponied up to keep him, figuring his reliability could help patch the holes in a thin rotation. Bloom thought otherwise, and two starts into Porcello's Mets career, it's hard to argue.

Porcello allowed seven runs in two innings in his debut, and wasn't much better in his second start on Friday in Atlanta, allowing four runs in four innings. He's sitting on a 13.50 ERA that would fit perfectly in Boston, unfortunately.

Brock Holt

The fan favorite utility guy languished for most of the winter before agreeing to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Brewers. Bloom decided to allocate those resources instead to Jose Peraza, who is now the team's starting second baseman.

Holt has barely gotten off the bench in Milwaukee, going 0 for 4 in four appearances. At age 32, his best days are likely behind him. The 26-year-old Peraza has slumped badly since a four-hit debut, but he's a far superior defender at second and short.

Sandy Leon

Outside of a couple of good weeks in 2016, Leon is what he is offensively. Currently, that's a .105 hitter with the Indians.

He effectively traded roles in December with former Cleveland backup Kevin Plawecki, who's off to a 4-for-10 start that helped make two-time All-Star Jonathan Lucroy expendable.

Mookie Betts hits first Dodgers home run, guns out runner with incredible throw

Mookie Betts hits first Dodgers home run, guns out runner with incredible throw

If only the Boston Red Sox had a guy like Mookie Betts.

The ex-Red Sox star, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the offseason, showed why he's considered one of the best players in baseball on Friday night vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.

First, Betts showed off his arm with an incredible throw from the right-field corner that gunned out a runner at third base.


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Later, he drilled his first home run in Dodger blue.

As if Sox fans needed more reasons to miss the 2018 American League MVP and World Series champion.

Betts signed a 12-year contract extension worth nearly $400 million with the Dodgers on July 22. It's safe to say there will be plenty more highlight-reel plays like the ones above over the course of his career in L.A.