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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 18: Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Oriolesat Fenway Park on August 18, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

With just a week to go until Spring Training begins in Fort Myers, the Red Sox may have made their biggest move of the 2021 offseason. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the team is trading outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals.

FanSided’s Robert Murray followed that report up with the information that it will be a three-team deal, including the New York Mets. Alex Speier of The Boston Globe confirmed those reports, and added the return is expected to be ‘multiple players’ to the Red Sox, while Kansas City is “likely to receive some financial relief.” ESPN’s Jeff Passan had the initial return, with the Red Sox receiving outfielder Franchy Cordero.

A Benintendi trade has been rumored for some time. The 26-year-old has had his batting average decline in each of the last three seasons, and posted a .103 average in 14 games in 2020 before an injury ended his season. On top of his recent struggles, Benintendi has just one more year of team control on his contract.

In return, the Red Sox land Cordero, who is under control through 2023. The 26-year-old debuted with the Padres in 2017, but was traded to the Royals before the 2020 season. Cordero has yet to play more than 40 major league games in a season, but in 95 games spread out over four years the lefty has hit .236 with 12 home runs 36 RBIs.

His best tool is his speed – he tracked in the top three percent of all outfielders in sprint speed in 2017, and led the minor leagues in triples in 2016 and 2017. He’s also shown some surprising power, ranking 35th in average exit velocity in 2017.

The Red Sox also received 22-year-old pitching prospect Josh Winckowski from the Mets, according to Heyman. This is the second time Winckowski has been traded in the last 14 days – he was sent from the Blue Jays to the Mets in the Steven Matz deal in late January. The 6-foot-4, 202 pound righty was a 15th-round selection by Toronto in 2016.

Winckowski split his 2019 evenly between the Single-A and high Single-A levels. In 23 starts that year, he went 10-8 with a 2.69 ERA and 1.202 WHIP. In 127.1 innings, the righty surrendered 110 hits, and struck out 108 batters while walking just 43. Due to COVID shutting down the minor leagues in 2020, that remains his most recent game action.

Passan added that the Mets will receive outfielder Kalil Lee, the eighth-ranked prospect in Kansas City’s system. Those may not be the only three players to move, with Passan closing his tweet by saying “others are involved.” Chad Jennings of The Athletic later reported the Red Sox could end up with ‘as many as five [players].’

A few hours later, Alex Speier reported that the Red Sox will end up getting three players to be named later in the deal – two from the Royals and one from the Mets. No deadline is currently known for the remaining players. Including three PTBNLs in one trade like this is petty unusual. However, with no minor league baseball being played last season, the Red Sox may want to buy some time and have a chance to see how guys look after a year off.

This trade may seem inauspicious to some Red Sox fans due to the timing. It occurs on the one year anniversary of the team trading another promising young outfielder – Mookie Betts – to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.