By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Honestly, you shouldn’t be annoyed that the Red Sox traded away Andrew Benintendi. But you should be enraged at what they got for him because it certainly feels like a giveaway.
Last night, in case you missed it, the Red Sox sent Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team trade that landed them outfielder Franchy Cordero from the Royals and pitcher Josh Winckowski from the New York Mets. Winckowski is a 16th-round pick who has never pitched above Single-A. Cordero is an athletic specimen who reportedly has the baseball instincts of a hockey puck.
And, get this: the Red Sox are sending $2.8 million to the Royals to cover almost half of his $6.6 million salary this season.
Here’s what David Schoenfield of ESPN wrote about Cordero just after midnight:
I guess you never know, but the odds seem slim that the tools will ever come together. Maybe the Red Sox see something they believe they can fix, but the scouting reports on Cordero have always mentioned that he simply scores low in his natural baseball instincts.
In fairness to the Red Sox, Winckowski sounds like he has a chance. And let me emphasize – a CHANCE. He won’t be 23 until June. He’s 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds. In 54 career minor-league games – 53 starts – he has a 3.35 ERA with 237 strikeouts and 86 walks in 263 innings. But he’s also been traded twice already.
The real questions here concern the overall values and direction of the Red Sox organization as a whole, especially when general manager Chaim Bloom sounded apologetic after the deal, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Said Bloom: ““I know for our fans, this is not the first time in the last year-plus that they have seen a player that is important to them and important to the organization leave. I know that’s tough. I know that’s painful. We’re obviously doing what we think is right for the organization. … We felt we were able to address a number of needs. It puts us on good enough footing going forward that it was worth swallowing hard and taking that painful step of trading a player who’s really important to us and very talented.”
Let’s say this again: the issue wasn’t trading away Benintendi, who has been disappointment in the last couple of years. The issue concerns what the Red Sox are building. Cordero doesn’t sound like much of a baseball player. When I read his profile, the first name I thought of was Wily Mo Pena, a physically imposing power hitter whom the Red Sox acquired in 2006. He basically lasted a year here before they became the second team to give up on his “potential,” which is a dirty word in sports. It’s a euphemism for “underachiever.” There’s nothing worse than a great athlete who doesn’t have the skills to play baseball. And Cordero doesn’t feel like much of a ball player.
Look, Chaim Bloom deserves a chance. Between the mess he inherited and the pandemic, he has just really started rebuilding the Red Sox. But since the trading deadline of the 2020 season, it certainly feels like the Red Sox have become Tampa Bay North – albeit without Tom Brady – which is a nice way of saying they’ve added a collection of misfits and rejects from other organizations. I’m not mocking Bloom. I’m just saying it doesn’t feel like the Sox are building a championship-caliber organization so much as they’re just throwing stuff against the wall.
All of this brings us back to Benintendi and a very simple question: what the heck happened here? His regression was so acute in the last two years that it felt like an organizational failure in player development. In 2018, he was a well-rounded, real baseball player, with 41 doubles, 103 runs scored, an .830 OPS, 16 homers and 21 steals while playing good defense. He has done nothing but get worse since. Did the Red Sox try to change him into a home run hitter by preaching launch angle and power? Is a guy like him no longer a fit for the bastardized, analytics-driven, modern game? Was there a personality conflict with instructors? Something went wrong here. Something worrisome.
And then there is this: from 2013-2016, the Red Sox had drafts where they picked seventh, seventh and 12th. With those choices they landed Trey Ball, Benintendi and Jay Groome. All of that was before Bloom got here, so it’s not his fault. But it does speak to gross organizational failure.
This year, as we all know, they Red Sox have the fourth pick in the draft, their highest draft position since the 1960s. Let’s hope they make good use of it. If they don’t, well, this might take a lot longer than anyone ever thought.