Red Sox News: Mystery players from Andrew Benintendi deal finally revealed

The Red Sox finally completed the Andrew Benintendi trade

The trade that shipped Andrew Beninendi to the Kansas City Royals over the winter has been a source of frustration for fans given the uncertainty over what the Boston Red Sox were getting in return for a player who was viewed as an emerging star a few short years ago. We now have some clarity that improves the outlook of this deal.

The one asset we’ve had a look at is Franchy Cordero, who was demoted to Triple-A following a dismal start that saw him hit a meager .179 with a .501 OPS in 34 games. With Benny in the midst of a bounce-back campaign, slashing .292/.351/.400 for the Royals, many jumped to the conclusion that the Red Sox lost this trade.

Except this was far from a one-for-one trade. Cordero didn’t need to match Benintendi’s production because more prospects were on the way to improve the package Boston receives in the deal. The complicated trade involved three players to be named later and months after the terms were agreed to, we finally know the identities of these mystery players.

The headliner is outfielder Freddy Valdez, acquired from the New York Mets as part of the three-way trade. Valdez was listed as the No. 14 prospect in the Mets farm system by MLB.com.

The 19-year-old has a big frame that brings impressive power potential. He has a good eye for the strike zone for a player his age and above-average bat speed. Valdez should produce some eye-popping exit velocities while blasting balls out of the park – at least when he makes contact. His swing tends to get a bit too long at times, making him vulnerable to strikeouts. He could develop into a solid power hitter if he manages to make enough contact to stay in the lineup.

Valdez has solid speed but seems unlikely to stick in center field. He has a good throwing arm but defense isn’t going to be his calling card even when he inevitably moves to a corner outfield spot. His path to the big leagues is going to depend on if he hits.

The last real game action that Valdez saw was during the 2019 season when he hit .268 with a .790 OPS, five home runs and six stolen bases in 57 games in the Dominican Summer League. He also went 4-for-10 with a homer in a brief three-game stint at the Rookie ball level in the Mets system.

He has a lot of developmental work ahead of him but his youth gives him plenty of time to improve and his raw power gives him enticing upside.

Boston also acquired right-handed pitchers Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from the Royals to complete the deal. Neither were ranked among Kansas City’s top-30 prospects.

The 18-year-old De La Rosa pitched in the DSL in 2019, posting a  2.33 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 52 strikeouts and 7 walks in 38 2/3 innings. Gambrell was the Royals 2019 third-round pick. He owns a 4.37 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 18 strikeouts and 7 walks in 22 2/3 innings this year.

Gambrell is closer to the big leagues but his ceiling doesn’t seem to be anything to get too excited about. De La Rosa is more of a lottery ticket who is years away from potentially making a contribution but potentially has more long-term upside.

The Red Sox also received Josh Winckowski from the Mets at the time of the trade in February. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 in five starts for Double-A Portland. This is his first season pitching above Single-A but the early returns give the impression that Winckowski could be the steal of this deal.

Will any of the players Boston received end up being as good as Benintendi? Probably not, although the current version of Benny isn’t quite what he used to be. His .292 average might lead you to believe he’s returned to form but his .400 SLG and .751 OPS would be the lowest of his career if you ignore last year’s abysmal 14-game sample. Benny has swiped seven bases but he’s also been caught stealing a league-leading six times.

The Red Sox clearly decided that Benintendi wasn’t going to be part of their long-term future. They saved some money to stay under the luxury tax threshold by making this deal while acquiring some depth for their farm system. Cordero doesn’t need to fill in as an adequate replacement for Benny. If he doesn’t pan out, Boston has some outfield pieces they can move around while bidding their time for Jarren Duran’s arrival.

Maybe Cordero never improves. Valdez could end up being his strikeout-prone clone if he ever makes it this far. Winckowski’s strong start to the season might be smoke and mirrors. The pitchers acquired from the Royals are no guarantee to ever sniff the big leagues.

It almost doesn’t matter. This was a quantity for quality deal and the Red Sox weren’t convinced that they player they were giving away still qualified as quality. The added organization depth, some possible trade chips to use down the line, lottery tickets they may eventually be able to cash in, plus immediate financial flexibility.

It will be years before we can truly grade his trade since many of the players involved are so far away from the majors but now that we finally know who those players are, we at least have some clarity that gives us reason to be excited about the potential of some of these prospects.