By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The question isn’t whether the Red Sox should trade Andrew Benintendi. They should. The question is whether they can get something close to fair value for him.
And so, in the wake of reports that began with The Athletic’s Jim Bowden indicating the Red Sox were in “serious” discussions involving Benintendi, don’t be surprised. Given where the Red Sox are – and a amid a pandemic – trading Benintendi makes all the sense in the world. And if Red Sox CBO Chaim Bloom pulls the trigger, it will be a great test case as to whether Bloom can replicate some of the executive trade magic that took place while he was in Tampa Bay.
Let’s make this easy for everyone: Alex Verdugo and Benintendi are redundant – they’re similar players. (Not exact, but similar.) Both can spray the ball to all fields. Both are left-handed. Both are ideally corner outfielders that can play center field if needed. But Verdugo is younger, cheaper and seems to hit consistently hit for a little more power, which makes Benintendi expendable.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have very little in the way of young pitching and don’t have many prospects to deal, which is why they were never really in the running for people like Blake Snell, Yu Darvish or Carlos Carrasco, the last of whom went to the New York Mets in the Francisco Lindor deal. As everyone knows, nobody is going to make a seat for you at the poker table if you don’t have any chips, and the fact that the Red Sox aren't even in the game for premium talent on the trade market is an indictment on the state of their baseball operation.
As for Benintendi, he’s gone backwards here. In fact, it’s entirely possible the Red Sox have ruined him by trying to turn him into something he’s not and never has been: a power hitter. Benintendi came to the big leagues as a doubles machine with some speed and some pop, but his ability to hit for power has always been in question, especially at Fenway Park. He’s 5-foot-9. And it’s a long way to those bullpens.
Now, is it possible that Benintendi is a victim of launch angle and analytics? Absolutely. What Benintendi was, out of college, was a true, bona fide baseball player, which is something that isn’t really valued much anymore. If the Red Sox took that and tried to change it – unsuccessfully after taking Benintendi with the seventh pick of the 2015 MLB draft – that is entirely on them.
Nonetheless, here we are – in a time and place where Benintendi is one of the Red Sox' few tradable assets – assuming they can get full value for him. (Or at least something very close.) Given what Benintendi has been in Boston, the Red Sox could reasonably replace whim with one of a handful of free agents on a depressed market – maybe someone like Eddie Rosario, who was released by the Minnesota Twins at the end of last season. On paper, Bloom could trade Benintendi, replace him with a free agent on the market, and simultaneously bring young pitching into an organization that badly lacks it.
The bottom line? It makes so much sense it would be foolish not to do it.
The only questions are whether the Red Sox can get good value for Benintendi after a year in which he batted .103, albeit in just 52 plate appearances.
And, more important, whether Bloom can get it right.