The Royals have worked out a deal to acquire outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Red Sox, per multiple reports. Franchy Cordero is part of the return going to Boston, along with righty Josh Winckowski, who’ll come from the Mets. For chipping in the young hurler, the Mets will add K.C. outfield prospect Khalil Lee.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi first reported a deal was in the works. Jon Heyman of MLB Network noted an agreement was in place. Robert Murray of FanSided, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com, and Heyman added details.
It seems there are still some moving pieces to this arrangement. The Sox stand to acquire several additional players in addition to those already reported, per Chad Jennings of The Athletic.
The Mets are sending a player to be named later in the deal along with Lee, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Benintendi is under team control through the 2022 season. He’ll earn $6.6M for the upcoming campaign under a two-year arbitration agreement he made previously with the Sox.
There’s no doubting Benintendi’s talent. He has largely produced above-average offensive numbers while delivering well-rated, versatile glovework across the outfield. Benintendi shone in particular in 2018, when he ran a .290/.366/.465 slash line with 16 home runs and 21 stolen bases over 661 plate appearances.
Unfortunately, Benintendi’s output has drooped a bit since that time. He was merely an average offensive performer in 2019, but his batted-ball figures (.330 wOBA vs. .348 xwOBA) suggested some poor fortune. And he struggled mightily in brief action last year, with a forgettable 14-game effort halted by what turned out to be a season-ending rib injury.
The Royals obviously believe a well-rested Benintendi can return to form. To reach his previous levels, the former sixth overall pick will both need to rediscover his acumen at the plate and rebound from a multiyear decline in foot speed.
For the rights to Benintendi, the Royals will part with a package of interesting but unestablished players. Cordero is 26 years of age, like Benintendi, but has taken only 315 MLB plate appearances over the past four seasons. Despite immense potential, he has been thwarted to this point by injuries and has yet to fully test himself at the game’s highest level.
The Sox will give Cordero a chance to find his footing in the bigs, but even if he’s successful, he’ll come with only one more season of control than Benintendi has. They’ll otherwise look solely to the future in this deal. Winckowski, whom the Mets acquired earlier in the offseason, has yet to crack the upper minors. He’s considered a potential back-of-the-rotation arm.
For the Mets, it’s rather a straightforward situation. The club obviously preferred the future of Lee to that of Winckowski (and whatever PTBNL ends up moving in the deal). In addition to filling a void in the team’s prospect pool, Lee has some serious potential upside. He’s a certified burner, having swiped 53 bags at Double-A in 2019, but still has some developing to do as a hitter.