Andrew Benintendi is heading to KC.
The Red Sox shipped the 26-year-old outfielder to the Royals on Wednesday, continuing the (light) teardown of the team, a year after dealing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in a blockbuster.
The #RedSox today traded OF Andrew Benintendi and cash considerations to the KC Royals, in exchange for OF Franchy Cordero & 2 players to be named later.
Additionally, the Red Sox received minor league RHP Josh Winckowski & a player to be named later from the New York Mets.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 11, 2021
The Red Sox net three players to be named later, outfielder Franchy Cordero from the Royals and pitcher Josh Winckowski from the Mets in the deal, making for a fair amount of moving parts in the three-team pact.
There’s a fair amount going on here, not much of it helping for the now. Here’s how it breaks down:
Andrew Benintendi trade grades
Royals get: Outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Red Sox
The Royals are, quietly, putting together a pretty decent offseason. They bought Benintendi on the cheap, added Carlos Santana on a two-year deal, signed Mike Minor to help out the rotation and have a farm system on the come-up.
The catch: Benintendi is coming off a 14-game season during which he battled a rib injury, so who knows whether he’s more the four-win player he was in 2018 or the World Series-hungover dude he was in 2019. Still, buying low on Benintendi (the Sox are throwing in cash, too) makes for a very good move right now, even if we’re waiting to see who the prospects are the Royals are sending back to Boston.
At 26, Benintendi is presumably entering the prime of his career and has one more year of team control after 2021, which, we know, is like gold in today’s game. The Royals add a lefty to the lineup that features a bit of pop with Santana and Jorge Soler.
Benintendi should fit in nicely, even if the Royals are subtracting slightly from a farm system that’s on the up-and-up right now.
Red Sox: Incomplete
Red Sox get: Outfielder Franchy Cordero, two PTBNL (from Royals), RHP Josh Winckowski, PTBNL (from Mets)
It’s difficult to say where the Red Sox truly grade out here, so we’re handing out the rare “Incomplete” grade, considering the meat of this deal is in the players to be named later.
Right now, Boston gets the toolsy outfielder Franchy Cordero from the Royals, who will slot into an outfield spot with the departure of Benintendi. Cordero will be playing for his third team in as many seasons, and has yet to put it all together as a major leaguer. But if the Red Sox can tap into his potential, then he could be a very good add for Boston right now.
Cordero came up as an uber-talented outfielder with the Padres and was dealt to the Royals last year. He’s an average defender with a strong arm, though he’s coming off a rough year in which he had a wrist injury that sidelined him for the majority of the season.
Time is running out to see what Cordero is, though. They also acquire pitcher Josh Winckowski from the Mets, an A-ball starter with good upside. He throws a low-90s sinker with a decent slider and changeup.
Giving up on Benintendi now isn’t the smartest or best move for a team that needs the talent (and Benintendi wasn’t exactly a costly piece in the outfield), but the team is clearly focused on rebuilding a pretty barren farm system. This trade helps that, netting three prospects in the deal, even if we don’t know names yet.
That said, the Sox can still be good this year: A lineup that features Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts has potential, for sure. But they definitely got weaker in the immediate.
Mets get: Outfielder Khalil Lee from Royals
The Mets and searching for outfield help — name a more iconic duo.
Sneaking in the trade, the Mets pick up Khalil Lee, a 22-year-old outfielder from the Royals who’s just about ready to make the jump to the majors. Lee was one of the Royals’ top prospects a few years ago, and he has lots of promise as both an offensive player and a defender should he develop this year.
The small risk here: There was no minor league season in 2020 because of the pandemic, leaving lots of players’ development in limbo. While Lee has above average on-base skills, his high strikeout rate leaves some questions offensively, but should he continue to progress, they could see him in the majors come September.
Lee’s upside as an all-around player could net the Mets a nice gain in the outfield, something they’ve needed for a few years now. They only had to give up Josh Winckowski, who they got in the recent Steven Matz-to-Toronto deal, and a player to be named later.
It’s a really low-risk, high-reward move for the Mets here, which is front-office smarts that they’ve lacked for some time.