The Red Sox made an unsurprising trade Tuesday, sending Alex Verdugo to their archrivals (maybe their trade partner was surprising), the New York Yankees. In return, the Red Sox received a trio of right-handed pitchers in an attempt to bolster their pitching.
Latest Red Sox Attempt to Bolster Pitching
In exchange for Verdugo, the Red Sox received Richard Fitts, Gregg Weissert, and Nicholas Judice. The Red Sox’s latest attempt to bolster their pitching will hopefully be better than the strategy they used in 2023. That strategy mainly consisted of signing players off waivers and/or promoting players from Triple-A, for an “inning audition.” The problem with that strategy was it did not give players a chance to show what they could do if the outing went bad; a one-and-done. Conversely, a pitcher may have had a great outing, yet could not perform consistently thereafter. Either way, the results were disastrous. Could the addition of these three prospects be an “about-face” for Red Sox pitching in 2024?
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Fitts spent last season in the Eastern League with the Yankees Double-A affiliate, the Somerset (NJ) Patriots. Fitts was 11-5 with a 3.48 ERA. He started 27 games for the Patriots last season, consisting of 152 2/3 innings. Fitts struck out 163 while walking 43. He allowed 131 hits while giving up 60 runs, 59 of which were earned. Fitts has the potential to help an often injured and subpar starting rotation that must improve if the Red Sox do not want to end up at the bottom of the AL East again next season.
Weissert is the one player headed to Boston in the deal who actually has major-league experience. Weissert is 3-0 in parts of two seasons with the Yankees. In 2023, Weissert appeared in 17 games (20 innings total) and was 0-0 while striking out 22, with a 4.05 ERA. For his major league career (2022 and 2023), Weissert is 3-0, in 29 appearances (31 1/3 innings) with a 4.60 ERA and 33 strikeouts. Weissert could help provide the stability the Red Sox bullpen was lacking last season.
Judice has yet to play any professional baseball. Collegiately, he played at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. In four seasons, Judice was 8-5 with a 4.09 ERA. Judice’s upside appears to be his strikeouts-to-walks ratio (134:51). Having not yet played a game of professional baseball to this point does make Judice a bit of a “wild card” as far as expectations are concerned.
The Red Sox needed to bolster their pitching this offseason. Alex Verdugo’s eventual departure seemed to be inevitable. The Sox were able to send a player who tried his hardest to live up to the enormous expectations (fair or unfair as they may have been) and receive at least two players who could have an immediate impact. If Fitts can do what he did at Double-A last season during spring training, he may be starting in the Red Sox rotation sometime this season. Weissert is the beginning of a solid foundation for the beginning of a revamped bullpen the Red Sox were desperately in need of. Judice has to prove himself in professional baseball, but he has shown flashes of his potential as an effective big-league pitcher if he can replicate what he did at the college level.
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