Red Sox Rumors: Teams asking for outfielder Andrew Benintendi in trade talks

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 03: Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Boston Red Sox hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on September 03, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 03: Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Boston Red Sox hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on September 03, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Andrew Benintendi has reportedly been a popular ask from teams approaching the Boston Red Sox about a trade his offseason.

It doesn’t hurt to ask but teams should expect the Boston Red Sox to politely decline when they inquire about the availability of outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Benintendi has been a “popular ask” from teams approaching the Red Sox about a potential trade.

The mention of Benintendi came in the midst of discussing Boston’s desire to shed payroll by trading away one of their high-priced starting pitchers – either David Price or Nathan Eovaldi. Passan suggests that Boston would need to attach a sweetener to the deal in order to entice a team to take on either of those bloated contracts. With few assets to surrender from one of the lower-ranked farm systems in baseball, teams have apparently been asking for Benintendi instead.

That should be a deal-breaker. Benintendi is worth a lot more than a mere sweetener to throw into a deal.

Benny is coming off a down season that saw his batting average dip to .266 to go along with a career-low .774 OPS. His strikeout rate was up, while his walk rate and home run power dropped.

That level of production may not seem all that valuable but selling Benintendi at his lowest point would be foolish. This is a player Red Sox fans pushed to make the All-Star team on the Final Vote ballot (he finished second) last year when he finished the season hitting .290 with a .830 OPS. The left fielder made one of the most amazing diving catches in postseason history to seal Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS. He already has a 20/20 season on his resume.

Oh, he’s also only 25 years old! So yeah, there’s room for him to improve. His problems this year were mostly mechanical issues that he can iron out over the offseason to restore his sweet swing.

Benintendi is entering his first year of arbitration and he’s projected to earn just under $5 million in 2020. That’s a bargain if he bounces back to his previous form and he remains under team control until 2023. This is the type of player a Red Sox team operating under a tighter budget should consider a core part of their roster.

Treating Price and Eovaldi as if they have negative value – to the point where you’re willing to give up a potential All-Star just to get rid of them – is a mistake. Their trade value is in the tank coming off down seasons plagued by injuries but both pitchers still have some upside. Are they worth their salary? No, but they aren’t worthless either.

Boston doesn’t necessarily need to dip under the luxury tax threshold by Opening Day since the tax only accounts for money spent by the end of the season. If they aren’t getting anything resembling a fair offer, why not wait until mid-season to see if they are pitching well enough to restore some of their value? Teams may be more open to a deadline deal when a large chunk of their 2020 salary has already been paid.

If we get to the trade deadline and Boston is cruising toward a potential division title, perhaps ownership can be persuaded to keep the band together for another World Series run. This is a franchise worth over $3 billion! Paying the tax again isn’t really that big of a deal as long as the team is winning.

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If the Red Sox truly are hellbent on shedding these long-term contracts, fine, trade them now. Offer to pay a portion of the remaining contract – teams might be thrilled to have Price if he cost $20 million instead of $32 and Boston would still save plenty of money. Throw a mid-tier prospect in the mix if you really need a sweetener.

Just don’t give away Benintendi. He’s too valuable. Sacrificing a player of his caliber simply to rectify the mistakes of the previous regime isn’t smart business. It’s a desperate move that should only be made by small-market teams that can’t afford these mega-deals. John Henry’s pockets are too deep to cry poverty and if he wasn’t willing to shell out this type of money then he should have squashed Dave Dombrowski’s decisions when he had the chance.

It’s probably safe to say Chaim Bloom understands this. If he was actually willing to part with Benny in order to dump a bad contract then there would be more traction on a potential trade by now. Teams with enough payroll space to afford Price or Eovaldi should be jumping at the chance to take one of those contracts if they get Benintendi essentially for free.

Next. Non-tendered free agents to consider. dark

Rival executives can ask for Benintendi all they want – hey, why not? The worst that will happen is the Red Sox will hang up the phone. As they should.