The Kansas City Royals have made an aggressive move by trading for outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Boston Red Sox. The deal involves those two teams as well as the New York Mets. This is one of the offseason’s largest deals in terms of volume with seven total players changing organizations. Jon Heyman was among the first to break the news Wednesday evening.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 11, 2021
Royals Acquire Andrew Benintendi
There are a lot of pieces to this deal, but the primary piece is Benintendi. The former first-round pick from the 2015 Amateur Draft leaves the only franchise he’s known after five respectable seasons. He slashed a combined .273/353/435 with 51 home runs, 400 strikeouts, and 221 walks in 2,104 plate appearances. The 26-year-old has also been a fine defender with 13 defensive runs saved in the outfield over 4,143 innings.
In exchange for Benintendi, the Royals send outfielder Franchy Cordero back to Boston. The former San Diego Padres international signing has had an uneven career with only 95 MLB games across parts of four seasons. He has a lot of talent but has failed to put everything together with either San Diego or Kansas City.
Boston also receives right-handed pitcher Josh Winckowski from the New York Mets, who themselves acquire outfielder Khalil Lee from the Royals. Winckowski is a former Toronto Blue Jays draft pick that New York acquired in exchange for Steven Matz earlier in the offseason. He is a 6’4, 202-pound pitcher rated 26th on the Mets’ Top 30 prospects. Winckowski has a fine fastball, an above-average slider, and a changeup. His future is probably as either a back-rotation starter or long relief option. The final piece is Lee, who was the eighth-rated Royals prospect at the time of this trade. There are some concerns about his hit tool, but Lee grades well in terms of fielding and baserunning. Lee is also the only prospect in this trade who has played recently. He competed in the Puerto Rican Winter League in the past two seasons and slashed .203/271/359 in 70 plate appearances between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
What This Trade Means for Each Team
Kansas City is the clear winner in this deal right now. They get the only established major league player who also happens to be an above-average regular thanks to his bat and glove at just 26-years-old. The Royals have been aggressive this winter in acquiring Mike Minor and Carlos Santana. Benintendi is just one more veteran added to an intriguing mixture of older players and prospects. He will certainly help an outfield unit that accumulated just 2.1 Fangraphs WAR in 2020. The Royals have quietly made themselves into a possible dark horse competitor in the AL Central.
New York also looks fine in this deal. The team’s centerfield defense was atrocious last year, costing the team roughly -22 defensive runs saved. Lee’s future might be as a fourth outfielder, but he has a very real chance to make an impact in 2021 thanks to his perceived skill with the glove.
Boston has the most players coming back, but also the most risk. Cordero has plenty of tools with very little to show for it in his brief major league career. The good thing is that he should finally get a chance to be an everyday player in Benintendi’s outfield spot. Winckowski is also a huge wildcard, but Boston had the worst starting rotation in the majors in 2020. They desperately need players with starter potential wherever they can find them. The Red Sox will also receive two PTBNL’s from Kansas City and one from New York. All three should help add depth to a farm system rated 20th in the most recent rankings from Baseball America. They had very little to gain by keeping Benintendi. Moving him gives them far more organizational depth than they had otherwise.
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