Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees turned a few heads when they acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo from the rival Boston Red Sox last winter, just before landing superstar Juan Soto. What could the Yankees possibly want with a fiery personality who had great plate vision and a solid arm, but not much power and a rep for clashing with his manager?

The answer, in a nutshell: A LOT. Alex Verdugo has injected some long overdue “fuck you” into these New York Yankees. Whether it’s stealing hits and leads from the Astros with slick fielding in Houston or barking at the Bleacher Creatures during roll call, Verdugo has fully embraced the pinstripes.

This story sounds a bit familiar. The Yankees are too demure, too nice, too passive for their Bronx Bombers moniker, and so a more intense and competitive personality is brought in. General manager Brian Cashman recently tried (and failed) this approach with third baseman Josh Donaldson.

We all remember that ill-fated trade, even though it got Gary Sanchez out of New York. Donaldson, a former MVP who slugged 26 home runs in 2021, was brought in to add some grit and edge to the lineup that, in John Jastremski’s words, had “too many nice guys.”

Donaldson batting .321 in his first Yankees spring training proved a mirage. His brief Bronx tenure was defined by drama and injuries before the team finally cut him last summer. He managed just 165 games in one-and-a-half years and hit just .207 with 25 home runs and a .678 OPS.

Adding Alex Verdugo, on the other hand, has worked out exactly as planned. He’s played in all 29 games and batting .267 with four home runs, an .804 OPS and a 134 wRC+. His walk rate (BB%) could be bigger at 12.5%, but his strikeout rate (K%) is only 8.3%. This has been his approach his whole career, putting the ball in play all over the field while avoiding strikeouts.

And speaking of the field, Verdugo has held his own there. He has a +3 defensive runs saved (DRS) and +1 outs above average (OAA).

But it’s in the clubhouse where Verdugo has had the most impact. Just watch his infamous “Dawg” home run from earlier this month:

The barking heading into the dugout and on the receiving line. His secret handshake with Jahmai Jones at the end. How about audible profanity??

Last year, I lamented how the fabled “Yankee Way” was dragging the Yankees down in the worst way. It seems the whole franchise from top to bottom has taken notice, with Verdugo keeping at everyone’s heels to stay mean.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Alex Verdugo himself, who summed it up best to The Daily News.

“This is probably my favorite clubhouse I’ve ever been in,” Verdugo said. “It’s a very close-knit, tight-knit group.”

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.