With the trade deadline approaching in a couple of weeks, talks of who the Yankees should target have ramped up. One of the most popular candidates is Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Let’s take a deep dive to determine whether he would be worth the price to acquire.
Starting with the obvious, Yankees fans are familiar with Benintendi from his days with the Boston Red Sox. He was once the top prospect in baseball and was expected to be a star for the Red Sox. While he put together some solid seasons, he never amounted to the sky-high expectations that Red Sox fans had for him.
Benintendi is in the middle of his best season since 2018. He has accumulated 1.9 Fangraphs WAR and is hitting for a 128 wRC+ with 2 defensive runs saved, earning his first trip to the All-Star Game. That’s a good player, but the question has been whether this is sustainable. Benintendi’s highest wRC+ historically is around 100, which is not bad, but not anything that will drastically change a team.
Just another day at the office for Andrew Benintendi pic.twitter.com/e0yhHYjarT
— Homegrown KC (@homegrown_kc_) July 10, 2022
The concern comes from Benintendi’s under-the-hood stats. He has a good expected batting average and also has good strikeout, whiff, chase, and walk rates according to Baseball Savant. That must mean he is a safe bet to keep up this performance, right? Not necessarily.
Benintendi rates in the bottom 18% of the league for barrel percentage, and is also below-average in expected slugging percentage and hard-hit rate. To give even more context, his batting average on balls put in play (BABIP) is .365. That is about .030 higher than his highest prior to 2022, and .056 higher than what it was in 2021. That is astronomically high. Given that power is not Benintendi’s game, he is a real candidate for regression offensively.
Now does that mean that the Yankees shouldn’t consider adding him at all? Absolutely not. Even if Benintendi regresses, he is an upgrade if he takes Joey Gallo’s spot on the roster.
Another upside of acquiring Benintendi is that he is a rental, so he will likely not cost a ton. Maybe someone on the fringe of the top 10 in the Yankees system. Ian Happ would be great, but if the Cubs insist on someone like Oswald Peraza, it might be wise to pivot and target Benintendi. It would help save prospects for a high-end starter like Luis Castillo, who the Yankees have been mentioned with.
If the Yankees were to acquire Benintendi at the deadline, Yankees fans should expect a solid player, but nothing game-changing. That’s fine, but given how big of a name Benintendi was coming up the ranks in Boston, some might set expectations too high.
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