Red Sox shouldn’t give up Andrew Benintendi in a Giancarlo Stanton deal

The latest Giancarlo Stanton rumor has the Boston Red Sox surrendering a package centered on outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

The Giancarlo Stanton to the Boston Red Sox rumors won’t go away. Not with Boston’s desperate need to add power to a lineup that ranks last in the league in home runs. Not until the Miami Marlins’ new ownership group states their intent to keep their slugger and his massive contract.

The latest speculation comes from the Boston Globe’s Nick Carardo, who writes that a deal for Stanton would need to start with an offer of outfielder Andrew Benintendi, left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, plus at least one enticing pitching prospect.

The infatuation with Stanton is certainly warranted. The 27-year old is making a push for 60 home runs while playing half his games in a pitcher-friendly park. Imagine the damage his powerful right-handed swing could deliver with Fenway Park’s short left field wall as his target.

Anchoring the lineup with a slugger of Stanton’s caliber is the dream scenario, but at what cost? If the price is Benintendi plus multiple other valuable assets, sorry, that’s too steep.

Benintendi will never approach the prolific home run totals that Stanton can deliver. He’s not that type of hitter. That doesn’t make him less valuable in the long run. Benny is a five-tool player on the verge of joining the 20/20 club, which hasn’t been accomplished by a rookie since Mike Trout blasted 30 home runs and swiped 49 bases in his first full season in 2012.

The notion that Benintendi hasn’t lived up to the hype is a ridiculous theory based on unrealistic expectations. It also hasn’t helped that he’s been overshadowed by Aaron Judge in the Rookie of the Year race – although the New York Yankees slugger’s second half slump is starting to open some eyes regarding his true value.

Benintendi has been excellent by any standards, let alone a 23-year old rookie. He’s hitting .280 with a .806 OPS while getting stronger as we get deeper into the season. Since August 1, Benny is hitting .339 with seven home runs and 20 RBI.

Stanton has been dwarfing those impressive numbers with his own home run barrage. However, this isn’t fantasy baseball. A swap of the two outfielders can’t be analyzed on these numbers alone and needs to be viewed through the lens of the long-term ramifications.

The biggest long term concern with Stanton is his contract. He’s owed a whopping $285 million over the next 10 seasons. While he’s certainly earning his contract this year, how optimistic are you that he’ll still be doing so approaching his late 30’s? That’s a tremendous commitment to a player who this year topped 125 games played for only the third time in his eight year career.

Stanton’s contract includes an opt-out clause in 2020, allowing him to hit free agency again at age 30. He won’t take advantage of it unless he knows he can make more money than the remainder of his current deal owes him, so the Red Sox could be on the hook for an even bigger albatross if they were to re-sign him. If they simply parted ways at that point they’d be saved the risk of paying big bucks to a player on the down slope of their career, but Boston wouldn’t be parting with a talent like Benintendi for a mere three years of Stanton.

Meanwhile, Benintendi remains one of the biggest bargains in the game. He won’t be arbitration eligible until 2020 and remains under team control until 2023. Having a collection of young, cheap talent allows the Red Sox to splurge on other roster spots.

Rather than give up a massive haul for the 60-homer slugger, Boston could keep their assets and spend on a free agent hitter instead. Cafardo mentions a number of appealing targets, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez.

Are any of those hitters the caliber of Stanton? No. But each is capable of smacking 30+ home runs, which provides a significant upgrade to this Red Sox lineup. In doing so they end up spending less than what Stanton will make while retaining Benintendi and their other assets.

Which brings us to the other part of this scenario that should make Red Sox fans hesitant. Benny isn’t getting a deal with the Marlins done on his own. Cafardo mentions E-Rod as part of his proposed package, which would be a big loss. The numbers may not look great for Rodriguez this year, but he was having an excellent season until a knee injury landed him on the disabled list. He’s been inconsistent since his return, but that early season success gave a glimpse of what he’s capable of. The Red Sox remain very high on him as a potential No. 2 starter down the line.

In addition to two valuable cogs on the current big league roster, the Red Sox would almost certainly be forced to part with at least one top prospect from a farm system left nearly barren from previous trades. Is Dave Dombrowski prepared to deplete the system further in addition to giving up two young, cost controlled talents from the current roster?

The conversation may focus on a Stanton for Benintendi trade, but there is so much more to it than that. If it were a straight up swap, sure. Boston can afford the extra money and the risk that comes with it. Stanton is enough of an upgrade over Benny’s ceiling to make that deal. Except that’s not the whole deal.

Give me Benintendi, Rodriguez and any of the aforementioned free agent targets over Stanton and his potentially hazardous contract.

Any trade for Stanton, assuming Miami even makes him available, will have to wait for the winter. It’s possible the outlook on these potential trade pieces could change by then but I wouldn’t count on it. There comes a point where the asking price is too steep. Based on this recent rumor, the starting point is already at that level where the Red Sox should walk away from the table.