A different look at the Red Sox trade of Andrew Benintendi
Your Boston Red Sox management has engaged in some remarkably productive trades through the years. The most notorious case in point for the negative counterpoint would be shipping Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Congratulations on that and the others shipped to the Big Apple that became the core for jump-starting Yankee dominance. So let’s migrate into this century and narrow it down to this decade.
Fans and media designate winners and losers in dealings. That is a natural avenue. Did we skin the other guys? As a trading expert – Frank “Trader” Lane of general manager fame once stated the best deals are those that help both teams. Now back to the trade of note – Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals. Did the Red Sox get snookered?
The February 10th deal is usually summarized as Benintendi for Franchy Cordero, but there is more in the complicated three-way deal that involved the New York Mets. Boston also received four prospects: Josh Winckowski (Mets), Freddy Valdez (Mets), Luis De La Rosa, and Grant Gambrell – the latter two from the Royals.
Winckowski has settled into the Portland rotation (4-1, 3.65) and could potentially have a future on an MLB roster. Gambrell is also a regular in the rotation at Greenville (0-4, 7.66) and has not shown enough to move up the organizational ladder. Valdez and De La Rosa are a very long way from making any impact. The prospects may or may not succeed, but let me revert back to the main attractions.
Benintendi is performing as his history tells us he would. There is no statistical leap to place the former first-round pick into All-Star territory. The Red Sox did save once Cordero’s contract is sorted into the equation about $5 MM and the prospects are a possible plus. Benintendi is as exciting as a library trustees meeting and has all the passion of a vanilla ice cream cone. I am sure my primo poster Reds would have far greater input on Benny.
The saga of Cordero is well noted in Red Sox lore as the power-hitting outfielder had a short circuit in Boston. Red Sox brass saw enough and packed Franchy up with a bow and ribbon for delivery to Worcester. Since his arrival in Wormtown, the lefty has been on a mission of terror for International League pitchers. Cordero may well have his return ticket punched.
For those wishing to keep score on the basics, the Red Sox lose and the Royals win. Or did they? The Bostonians needed another outfielder to patrol the MLB gardens. A replacement. A December deal had the die-cast for the exit of Benintendi. Who?
In a frenzy of purchasing versatility, Chaim Bloom went shopping in February and early March. Marwin González (2/24), Enrique Hernández (2/2), and even Danny Santana (3/7) came roaring into the fold, but the real buy. The only one with serious outfield time on his resume was Hunter Renfroe whose December signing was the death knell for Benintendi in Boston. Renfroe’s signing set in motion the exit plan for Benintendi. The rest are padding and protection. Renfroe fails then Bloom has it covered.
I look at the trade, not as Benintendi for Cordero and prospects, but Benintendi for Renfroe – not directly but indirectly. And Renfroe is on the books for $3.1 MM. The Red Sox win on cost savings and most importantly on production. Renfroe has more power – a lot more power. Then comes the cherry on top and that is defense.
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Among qualified right fielders in the American League Renfroe sits on top of the pile. The arm is the highlight and already runners have a degree of muddled thinking about that extra sack when Renfoe pounces on the ball and gets his cannon ready. The assist total has been well noted and baseball should have a metric – they have it for everything – regarding a save. When a runner stays anchored instead of taking the risk. Renfroe keeps them wary and honest.
So I break down the deal obviously a bit differently. Granted – this may be a rather circular approach, but I have done it on other transactions where it was not necessarily the player swapped to Boston but just who replaced the player shipped out.
Renfroe has surprised me. Another free swinger with limited skills with the stick and the glove. The 2020 season was an aberration as it was for Benintendi. Neither player did anything of note in 2020 to instill that this was nothing more than a secondary transaction. I can proudly announce I was dead wrong on Renfroe. The kid can play, hustles, has an edge, and is a plus. Renfroe is even hitting righties.
I was also wrong on Benintendi who started his career fast and then gradually became a ‘meh” player. A few years ago I wrote that Benintendi was a future batting champion but that championship may be in AAA and not MLB. Even a change of scenery has done little to get the lefty out of the doldrums of mediocrity.