By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Alex Verdugo, born in Tucson, Ariz. will play for Mexico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
This will be Verdugo’s second time playing for Mexico, who previously appeared in the 2017 tournament under manager Edgar Gonzalez. Mexico went 1-2 during pool round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic and had to play in the 2016 qualifiers in Estadio B’Air in Mexicali before playing in Jalisco during the pool round of the main tournament.
Verdugo batted .357 during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, where in 14 at bats he recorded five hits. Mexico manager Benji Gil will have a solid team filled with players in Major League organizations and players in the high minors. Verdugo, entering his seventh Major League season and fourth with the Red Sox, played his first three years of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last season with Boston, Verdugo played 152 games, batting .280 with 644 plate appearances, recording 166 hits, 11 home runs, and 74 RBI.
Mexico will start out in Pool C in Phoenix, Ariz. and will face off against the United States, Canada, Colombia and Great Britain to begin of the 2023 World Baseball Classic at Chase Field. Mexico will arrive in Phoenix on March 6 and will begin their workouts on March 7 in Scottsdale before playing two exhibition games on March 8 against the Cleveland Guardians at 1:05 p.m. MST in Goodyear and on March 9 against the Colorado Rockies at 1:10 p.m. MST in Peoria.
Verdugo was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2014 Amateur Draft in the second round out of Sahuaro High School in Tucson, Ariz. and signed, despite having committed to play at Arizona State University. In 49 games during the 2014 season with the Arizona League Dodgers, he hit .347 and was awarded with post-season Arizona League All-Star honors and Baseball America Rookie League All-Star honors. He was assigned to the Class-A Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League to start 2015. Verdugo was selected to the postseason All-Star team after he hit .295 in 101 games.
Verdugo excelled throughout the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system, making his Major League debut on September 1, 2017 after starting the season in Triple-A with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Verdugo played in 15 games in 25 plate appearances with the Dodgers to close out the 2017 season he batted .174 with four hits and one home run.
The next year, Verdugo was selected to represent the Pacific Coast League at the 2018 Triple-A All Star Game before being called up to the Dodgers again in the second half of the season. Verdugo appeared in 37 games for the Dodgers, batting .260 with 20 hits, one home run and four RBI during the second half of the 2018 regular season. In 2019, Verdugo improved upon his numbers, hitting .295 in 106 games through 377 plate appearances, with 101 hits, 12 home runs and 44 RBI.
During the 2019-20 offseason, Verdugo was traded to the Red Sox on February 10 with Jeter Down and Connor Wong both leaving the Dodgers organization for Mookie Betts, David Price and cash considerations. In 2020’s shortened season, Verdugo batted .308 with six home runs and 15 RBI playing in 53 games. In the 2021 season Verdugo played in 146 games batting .289 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI. During the 2021 postseason, Verdugo went 13-for-42 batting .310 and eventually losing in the American League championship series to the Houston Astros.
Verdugo signed back with the Boston Red Sox on January 13, getting a one-year, $6.3 million contract and will be eligible for arbitration through the 2024 season. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025.
Mexico will play their first game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic in Pool C against Colombia on March 11 at 2:30 p.m. EST in Phoenix at Chase Field on FOX.