NEW YORK — While the Yankees and Padres were finalizing their Winter Meetings deal to bring Juan Soto to the Bronx, GM Brian Cashman simultaneously was in talks with the Red Sox for the outfielder that manager Aaron Boone had been pushing to get for years.

And then a day apart last December, the Yankees got both of them, first Alex Verdugo from Boston for young pitching and then Soto in a blockbuster.

Alex Verdugo

Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo went into Monday’s game hitting .357 in his last 11, a surge that hiked his season average to .260.AP

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Almost a month in the regular season, Boone is elated with what both have provided the first-place Yankees, who were 15-7 heading into Monday’s matinee at Yankee Stadium against the Athletics.

Everyone knows that Soto has been killing it at the plate and playing a very good right field, but Verdugo has been a major contributor, as well.

Verdugo had his moments while hitting just .143 in the Yankees’ first 10 games, then a lot more in the next 11 when he hit at a .357 clip to hike his season average up to .260 through Sunday. All the while, Verdugo’s become very popular with teammates due to his outgoing personality. He’s the one that started the Yankees’ barking in the dugout after being hits.

“He’s just been a really good player for us so far, a winning player is the way I would put it,” Boone said. “He’s done a little bit of everything, whether it’s a clutch hit here and there, obviously a big hit (Sunday).”

The Yankees and Rays were tied 1-1 in the fifth inning when Verdugo lined a bases-loaded, two-out hit to right center to knock in two runs. When Jose Trevino and Oswaldo Cabrera followed with RBI hits, the Yankees were ahead by four runs and on their way to a 5-3 victory and series win.

“He’s been a money player for us and I fully expect that to continue,” Boone said.

Verdugo also has given the Yankees’ badly-needed stability in left field having started every game out there.

In 2023, 10 different Yankees made starts in left field — Cabrera (34), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (28), Billy McKinney (27), Everson Pereira (26), Jake Bauers (20), Aaron Hicks (15), Franchy Cordero (4), Greg Allen (3), Willie Calhoun (3) and Giancarlo Stanton (2).

Boone first became fascinated with Verdugo while seeing a lot of him in Yankees-Red Sox games from 2020-23.

“Watching him … I just feel like he’s kind of a gamer,” Boone said. “He likes the action. He likes the competition. He likes the stage. And I feel like he’s a two-way player.

“He’s a really good bat-to-ball natural hitter coupled with a really good defender in the corners. I’ve even slid him over center, too., and he’s got no issue with that. He’s just brought a little intangible thing to us that I think’s been good.”