Red Sox: Breaking up World Series winning outfield was inevitable

BOSTON, MA - JULY 16: Mookie Betts #50, Jackie Bradley Jr. #19, and Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Boston Red Sox high fives each other before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 16, 2019 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 16: Mookie Betts #50, Jackie Bradley Jr. #19, and Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Boston Red Sox high fives each other before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 16, 2019 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Andrew Benintendi trade completes breakup of Red Sox Killer B’s

One year after the Mookie Betts trade, the news broke that the Boston Red Sox had traded left fielder Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals. While it was inevitable that this outfield was going to be completely reassembled over time, it’s still a challenging time for Red Sox fans.

The trio of Betts, Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr., which became known as the “Killer B’s,” became very dear to the hearts of the Red Sox faithful over the few seasons that they spent together in Fenway Park’s outfield. They all played a major role in Boston’s capturing of the 2018 World Series title. To see not one, not two, but all three of them are off of the Red Sox’s books right now is painful, even if it pans out to be the correct thing to do for the future of the ballclub.

With Betts fitting like a glove with the Dodgers, and Benintendi finding himself a fresh start with the Royals, Bradley remains the only one of the trio who could possibly return to Fenway since he’s currently an unrestricted free agent. While it has seemed unlikely that a return to Boston could be on the table for months now, he could potentially still return. Following the trade of Benintendi, chief executive Chaim Bloom remains ‘hopeful’ that the Red Sox will be able to find a fit for Jackie. Bloom went on to say that he recognizes this might not happen.

In terms of bringing back Bradley, it depends on what the contract would look like, as the Sox have been adamant on their approach with saving money and making deals that won’t have too much strain on the future payrolls. The Sox have the flexibility to get Bradley but it’s unknown at this point how much he would command. It was reported that JBJ is seeking a lengthy contract and MLB Trade Rumors projected the center fielder would get a 2-year, $16 million deal this winter.

It would be great to have Jackie back in Boston, but we’ll have to see what happens. Expect Bloom to make the smart decision here. We already know they don’t want to commit to multi-year deals, and if this is something Bradley wants, he’ll find a better deal elsewhere anyway.

After the Betts deal, trading any other star from that stacked 2018 team became inevitable. While the Red Sox still have the likes of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez in their lineup, it’s going to be far from the same kind of season in 2021.

This front office has a plan and is going to stick to it, which is good for the long-term future, but bad for nostalgic reasons – something that always takes its toll on a fanbase in sports. If you rewind a year ago, when it became clear that they weren’t going to be forking out the money to pay Betts, this is the real starting point of the rebuild, when you’re losing your franchise player over something that could feasibly be solved.

Benintendi’s performance at the plate has been regressing ever since the 2018 season.  We still hope he’ll become a great major league player with Kansas City but he’s just lacked something over the last couple of years, whether that be confidence or something else.

Outfielder Jarren Duran could be one of the reasons why the Sox would be hesitant on being aggressive in pursuit of Bradley. Duran is now 24-years-old and is close to breaking onto the major league scene in Boston. He’s got a .322 batting average over 199 in the minor leagues and has received an invitation to the Sox’s 75-man spring training roster, where he’ll look to make an impact. 9

Boston’s current outfield three looks like this: Hunter Renfroe (.216 in 2019), Alex Verdugo, and Franchy Cordero, who was in the return package for Benintendi.

Cordero has a high upside, at just 26-years-old. Since coming up to the majors in 2016, Cordero has hit .236/.304/.433. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but at least the Sox are getting a decent piece back to help with the team’s growth right now, not just in the future.

Verdugo and Cordero are effectively direct replacements for Betts and Benintendi, and, while it might not be exactly what we were expecting to have just two years after winning a championship, at least it’s something with a short-term upside that’s come in return.

Verdugo already showed he’s legitimate last season. He was arguably Boston’s best player at times, finishing the short season with a .844 OPS and 12th in American League MVP voting. In what was a tough season for everyone, Verdugo showed the adjustment to Boston to be pretty easy for himself.

The Sox have gone from their best outfield since Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Dwight Evans to a makeshift three in the space of a year. It’s not the direction that anybody thought this team was going to go after winning a franchise-record 108 games in 2018, but it’s the harsh reality of baseball in the 2020s.

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Bloom came in and inherited a pretty poor situation in all honesty. Yes, the 2018 team was perhaps the best in franchise history, but it came at the cost of the entire farm. Was it worth it? I think any Red Sox fan will tell you that it was. But, we’re now paying the price. It’s going to be a long journey to get back to a consistent winning level again, but Bloom is the right man to guide the Red Sox to the promised land once more. He worked his magic in Tampa Bay, it’s time for him to do it in perhaps the hardest place to perform in sports.