While 2018 was a fantastic year for Boston, it couldn’t get better for some players like Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi improved off of 2017, which saw him place second in the AL Rookie of the Year race. He saw an increase in nearly every offensive stat during 2018, including a 20 point increase to his OPS+(123). 2019 did not show us the 4.0 WAR player that many predicted when he went seventh overall in the draft. While the pandemic shortened season of 2020 shouldn’t count for many players, it didn’t help Benny’s case. That’s why Chaim Bloom is shopping, and according to most reports going to trade Andrew Benintendi before the end of the weekend.
The Case to Trade Andrew Benintendi
These last two seasons have been more than disappointing for fans of Andrew Benintendi. When a ball club is drafting a position player in the first ten picks, they expect to receive a top of the lineup bat for the better part of a decade. The Red Sox received that production in 2018 when Benintendi posted a 4.5 WAR in the championship season, making memories along the way.
Benintendi then went on to have a 1.8 WAR in 2019. He declined in nearly every offensive category, including a drop off from .290 to .266 batting average and 123 to a career-low 100 OPS+. Now, a year where a young potential star is just an average player is no big deal, especially considering the World Series hangover and the change to batting leadoff. It’s the beginning of 2020 that scares the Red Sox. In the 14 games in which Benintendi played, he hit .103 with a 27 OPS+. So much for bouncing back.
The Red Sox would be wise to trade Andrew Benintendi this offseason because his shelf life could soon run out. What if Benintendi’s offense is close to being as woeful in 2021 as it seemed in 2020? Will there even be a market next winter? If Benintendi’s at-bats are as competitive as a Big 12 defense in 2021, there will be nowhere for him besides Boston. If teams like Houston, Oakland, Miami, and Pittsburgh think that a 4.0 WAR player is in that 26-year-old, then you must capitalize. It’s better to sell low now in case you end up selling high.
The Case to Keep Andrew Benintendi
He’s 26 freaking years old! Andrew Benintendi is going into his age 26 season, which will only be his fourth full season in the majors. It seems to me like time is on Benintendi’s side, and it might be in Boston’s best interest to keep him around. For all we know, he can leap in 2021 and 2022 to become a core position player alongside Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo.
Besides, can you imagine how much pushback there will be against the Chaim Bloom regime if they screw this up? The fan base will go crazy if Benintendi becomes an All-Star with another franchise. Rebuilds are hard enough on a team, but it’s harder when you see no direction, and the team pushes proven winners out the door.
I could see the Red Sox walking this Benintendi trade back because of the optics of a deal gone wrong. The front office can easily lose the fan base by trading such a beloved player. They would need to win the trade by a lot, or else the fanbase will never buy into the deal. When you add that to Benny potentially returning to stardom in Boston, it does not seem wise.
Where He Will Go
I would be remiss not to mention Pittsburgh, a deal that would reunite Andrew Benintendi with the man who drafted him, Ben Cherington. Cherington undoubtedly spent hours looking at the scouting reports and most likely looked at their first-rounder himself. Who else would be more confident than him in what Benintendi could become? With that said, I think Benintendi is Houston’s to lose.
As we advance, the first and foremost concern for the Red Sox is to add talent and youth to the organization’s pitching. Houston wouldn’t be too worse for wear if they gave up one of their top pitching prospects like Hunter Brown or Alex Santos. Especially if, in return, they received an everyday outfielder for years to come. This would be an interesting move to make for a variety of reasons but certainly the history. Benintendi would have to quite a bit of relationship-building after his actions in 2018.
Honestly, a move such as this should be criminal because of how weird it would feel to see him on the other side. If this happened, I might curl up in the corner and scream-sing “Because of You” like an angsty teenage child. Rob Manfred ought to ban certain players from certain teams if he’s going to cripple baseball’s integrity for the sake of ratings.
That eliminates Houston for history, Miami and Seattle for the jerseys, and Minnesota just because he couldn’t torture Benintendi that way.
Trading a player who meant so much to a World Series team is a contentious topic, especially when the fans have seen so many players depart lately. I understand the reasoning behind keeping Andrew Benintendi. He is still very young and has already shown a propensity to be an extremely valuable player. You shouldn’t just give up on that when the ceiling of the return is probably lower. With that said, trading Benintendi to another team is the safest bet for Boston. If you have scouted these other teams as well as you should have, you will get a valuable player in return. Not only will you have a good player, but you can avoid Benintendi’s value dropping any further. If Chaim is smart, he will trade Andrew Benintendi, probably to Houston, very soon.
Thank you, Benny.