Reports have surfaced that the Boston Red Sox are looking to move outfielder Andrew Benintendi. He is a 26-year old outfielder who has played four-plus seasons in the league and had an important role in the 2018 Red Sox title team. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, a rival executive stated he will be “shocked” if Benintendi is not traded soon. Some of the teams that Boston has reportedly talked to include the Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, and Texas Rangers. After the infamous Mookie Betts trade a year ago, it looks like an Andrew Benintendi trade is the next move in the team’s retooling effort.
What Benintendi Brings to Potential Suitors
Considering Benintendi’s age and the fact he has two more seasons until free agency, it makes sense why Boston is looking to move him. Prior to his injury-riddled 2020 season, he averaged 146 games played per year from 2017 to 2019. Offensively, he is slightly above-average, posting a .273/353/.435 career batting line. That amounts to a .789 OPS and 107 OPS+. His best season came in 2018 as he put up a .830 OPS and 123 OPS+ while hitting 16 homers, stealing 17 bases, and posting 4.5 WAR. Benintendi possesses solid speed to go along with good defense, as reflected by his career 53 steals and 13 DRS. His best position is left field but can play a solid center field as well.
What Benintendi will bring to potential suitors is someone who does not have much power but makes up for that by being a well-rounded player. His career 10.4 BB% rate and 19.0 K% are both better than the league average. His career stolen base rate of 80% is also a superb success rate. He has shown the ability to be a consistent 3-4 WAR player because of his skillset. This type of production is very valuable for teams, especially if it does not cost much. Benintendi is currently on a 2-year/$10 million deal that covered his 2020 and 2021 arbitration years. He is a free agent after the 2022 season and thus could bring good value to whatever club he goes to. Let’s breakdown what Boston needs are and what they could receive for Benintendi.
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
Pitching is the glaring weakness on Boston’s roster. The pitching staff ranked at or near the bottom in many significant statistical categories. While a healthy Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez figure to improve the rotation, the team lacks the young talented arms they need. MLB Pipeline rankings notes they do not have any pitching prospects in the top-100. However, they have 12 pitchers in their top-30 but ten of them have not made their major league debuts. Considering Benintendi is coming off injuries in 2020 and a somewhat poor 2019, his value is not as high as it used to be. With that said, he will fetch a decent package.
Who Could Peak Boston’s Interest
The Houston Astros have a plethora of young pitching and a hole in left field. This is just speculation, but maybe the Astros would be willing to part ways with 27-year old right-hander Josh James. Serving mainly as a reliever since 2018, James is the type of high-ceiling arm the Red Sox should be aiming to acquire. His crux has been his control, displayed by his career 5.2 BB/9. However, his 13.3 K/9 is elite as well as his fastball velocity that ranks in the top-11% of the league. As Houston displayed in 2020, they have the type of talented young arms to help steady their rotation. James has four years under club control and is someone who should intrigue the Red Sox.
With the Texas Rangers rumored to have some interest, left-hander Joe Palumbo might spike Boston’s interest. He is 25 years old and ranks as the 10th best prospect in the Rangers system. Palumbo stuck out 26 batters in 19 big-league innings, showing off his high-spin curveball and a four-seam fastball that reaches the mid-90s. With Oakland displaying some interest, it is fair to wonder if someone like Frankie Montas could be available. Due to his struggles and the team’s rotation depth, it seemed like Montas fell out of favor in Oakland in 2020. Montas has a very high ceiling and is a free agent in three seasons, so Oakland might ask for more than Benintendi in such a trade.
Maybe Some Outfielders Too
With Jackie Bradley Jr. a free agent and Mookie Betts in Los Angeles, Boston’s outfield currently looks very weak. A Benintendi trade makes Alex Verdugo the only outfielder with a projected wRC+ above 100. What this means is that Boston could also look for some outfield upgrades in any Benintendi trade. Even with the loss of Robbie Grossman, the Athletics could potentially part ways with Stephen Piscotty or Chad Pinder, both of whom are not free agents until 2023. The Rangers and Astros seem to be better fitted as trade partners with Boston from a pitching standpoint. This is because both clubs need more offense to bolster the lineup.
It is fascinating to think about how much different the Red Sox look as opposed to two years ago. The young offensive core that was thought to lead the team to a dynasty-like run is, for all intents and purposes, gone. An Andrew Benintendi trade should fetch Boston an interesting package involving major-league outfielders and pitching prospects. He is a good all-around player who will provide good value to whatever team acquires him. This is just another move that signals a new era for the Boston Red Sox.
Embed from Getty Images