Red Sox Need Benintendi, Even At The Expense Of Sale

Jul 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) reacts after getting the last out of the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) reacts after getting the last out of the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox prospect Andrew Benintendi, believe it or not, is more valuable than starting pitcher Chris Sale. A trade involving these two is scary at best.

Everyone in Beantown crying, once again, that the pitching let the home team down? The Red Sox got swept in Fenway Park in a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers, who outscored them in a combined 17 runs to 13, including a heart-breaking 4-3 loss yesterday. Miguel Cabrera hit his 21st home run of the season in the top of the ninth inning, after Mookie Betts had just tied it in the bottom of the eighth. Red Sox Nation continues to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune governed by their pitching staff. What’s the use of having the most potent offense in the majors if the team is always in a huge hole early? Right?

Well, suck up those beans and take some warm milk before going to bed, Boston. If you want some serious starting pitching right now, you’ll have to let go of some major pieces; however, if that means letting go of Benintendi, you might as well get comfortable sitting outside the postseason campground for a couple more seasons.

Christopher Smith of provided some information from another reporter on the matter: “ columnist Phil Rogers, who previously worked for The Chicago Tribune, reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Chicago White Sox love Red Sox center field prospect Andrew Benintendi and that he could be the ‘front man’ in a multi-player package for Chris Sale ‘if talks progress.'”

Smith added that “it seems unlikely Benintendi would be the top player headed to Chicago in a trade for Sale. It’s more realistic the White Sox would demand Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada, who Baseball America ranked the No. 1 MLB prospect on its midseason rankings.”

Pardon the interruption, but how desperate is everyone getting?

Let’s settle something first: an ace starting pitcher is wonderful to have every fifth game. Especially a lefty, which Sale is. With a record of 14-3 in 19 starts for the Chicago White Sox, Sale has been worth all of the headaches that he’s supposedly given management in recent months. His 3.18 ERA would put Sale in second place, between Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, while his win total is one more than Porcello’s sum for top spot on the team. If he was acquired in a trade.

How many games has Boston played so far? Oh, that’s right, just under 100 games. To trade top position players, who play practically every game, for one man who only plays once every five or six games seems very risky. Not to mention the fact that the names being mentioned are ones like Benintendi and Moncada, supposedly the future of the franchise.

Even Smith believes that Moncada “could become Robinson Cano with 40 stolen bases per season.” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has been showing his age a bit with injuries the last few seasons. The third base issue between Pablo Sandoval‘s bench-sitting performances and Travis Shaw‘s rollercoaster streaks at the plate also add to the possibility that the Red Sox infield will be hurting significantly, if not already. Why would Boston allow another team to have this blue-chip, infield asset, with multiple holes needing to be filled soon?

One could argue that it takes money to make money, or top assets for top assets in this case; however, selling off the next 20 years in Boston for one shot at a World Series with a player who only plays a fifth of the season is not a good business decision by any means. Especially when it’s pointed out that Sale is only signed through next season, with team options for 2018 and 2019. Both Moncada and Benintendi will cost the Red Sox next to nothing when they are called up, before even approaching new contracts, and that call might be sooner than first expected.

Benintendi has been playing some left field for Double-A Portland, away from his standard position at center, and has hit a slash line of .281/.345/.478 which included 38 RBIs in 60 games. After last season’s log jam in the outfield, the Red Sox have had so many injuries that they’ve had trouble finding a suitable replacement in left this year. While Brock Holt continues to platoon with an assortment of younger players at the position, Boston would love to find a player to fill the role full-time for the foreseeable future.

Trading Benintendi, with all of his potential with his bat and his already-proven speed and skill in the outfield, would be like pouring the only canteen of water onto the sandy ground when stuck in the middle of a burning desert. With David Ortiz, the designated hitter and face of the Red Sox franchise, retiring this season, Boston will be missing a bat and a glove if Benintendi was traded. Counterproductive is putting it mildly.

Sale’s 27-year-old arm looks fantastic right now, and it looks to be one of the most dominant arms in the majors for the next few years. Benintendi and Moncada, however, look like they are going to be All-Star players for the Red Sox for the next 10-15 years. In Smith’s opinion, “Trading Benintendi is worth the risk. The Red Sox should be more reluctant to trade Moncada for any pitcher at all.” The Red Sox do want to win a World Series this season, but they also want to contend in years to come. Having a superstar left fielder and a possible franchise infielder, just when Ortiz is retiring, gives hope that it will happen. Trading either of these prospects for anyone would seriously hamper those plans, and a business is always in it for the long haul, not just one non-guaranteed championship.