The Red Sox sent away Andrew Benintendi, but didn’t get much back in return.
A three-team trade — and a complicated one at that — sent Benintendi to Kansas City, and prospects back to Boston. The Mets, an innocent bystander in all of this, upgraded their farm system immensely in the process.
Boston has been itching to get rid of the former No. 1 prospect for months. Benintendi does still have some offensive potential remaining, and could prove valuable away from the bright lights of Fenway Park.
Nothing wrong with a second chance, right?
Who won the Andrew Benintendi trade, and why?
The Mets, Royals and Red Sox all graded out quite differently in this deal.
Mets Grade: B+
Honestly, what did the Mets have to lose by getting involved in this trade?
Per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, only three of the Mets top 30 prospects are outfielders. New owner Steve Cohen has made it a point to mention that while he’s going to spend far more than past ownership, he also wants to upgrade the farm system. It’s tough to do both, and the front office found a way to make an incremental improvement by adding Khalil Lee, previously of the Kansas City Royals. In exchange, it’s likely the Mets will have to send a PTBNL Boston’s way, which includes right-handed pitcher Josh Winckowski, who was in the top-30 of New York’s system.
Sure, the second prospect in said deal could be better than Winckowski, but Lee comes at a position of need AND immediately jumps into the Mets top-10 for New York. This is a clear win.
Royals Grade: C+
Very, very quietly, the Royals are speeding up their competitive window. Kansas City has made some low-key good signings this offseason, including Carlos Santana.
For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the acquisition of Benintendi. Benintendi has been a .273/.353/.435 hitter in his five seasons in Boston. Those aren’t bad numbers, but his shortened 2020 season was abysmal, hitting just 4-for-39 with 17 strikeouts. His defense has also worsened over the course of the last couple years, meaning at this point the Royals are taking a flier on a player that Boston clearly didn’t think much of at this juncture.
Yet, Benintendi is just 26 years old. To suggest his best days are behind him is rather pessimistic. With him in tow, the Royals lineup looks rather competitive.
Help is on the way in the form of the Royals farm system, and despite dealing away Lee, they still have two outfielders in their top-7, who were blocking Lee from ever making a major league impact. Franchy Cordero, of course, will be replaced by Benintendi and then some.
For the Royals, this was a case of ‘why not?’ Benintendi is still young enough to make a difference and under contract through 2022. It’s the kind of win-now move that could actually pay off in the long run, and worst-case scenario, there are plenty of outfield replacements waiting in the minors.
Boston Red Sox: D
Look, is this fair? No, not really. The Sox are receiving at least three players to be named at a later date, so judging this trade is TBD for Boston. At this moment, it doesn’t look pretty. Chaim Bloom dealt a fan favorite and replaced him with a lesser player for what looks to be a salary dump and relatively underwhelming minor-league talent. Unless Boston knows something we don’t about Cordero, or Winckowski, Bloom has some questions to answer. Heck, the Red Sox willingly added $8 million to the payroll in Adam Ottavino, only to send away Benintendi for what looks to be (at least somewhat) financial motivations.
The Red Sox knew rebuilding from the ground up would hurt fans’ morale. What they didn’t tell Boston was that they’d be replacing the entire outfield — Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Benintendi — over the course of two seasons with relatively unknown minor-league talent. The Betts return was bad enough, despite the progress of Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs. It’s tough to see the Sox replacing that kind of talent ever, let alone in the next few seasons.
Red Sox supporters are among the best in sports, and it’s easy to talk themselves into this trade. But how many more talented young players have to be sent elsewhere to realize that this is a little more than your average rebuild?