Cincinnati native and current Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi is reportedly on the trade market according to former Reds general manager Jim Bowden of The Athletic.
Originally selected by Cincinnati out of Madeira High School in the 31st round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, Andrew Benintendi chose to head off to college and play for Arkansas. Two years later he was selected 7th overall by the Red Sox and was in the Major Leagues a year later, playing in 34 games in the big leagues while hitting .295/.359/.476. He was a full-time starter the next year and has been every season since.
From 2016-2019 he hit .277/.354/.442, good for a 109 OPS+. But in 2020 he only played in 14 games and he struggled in a huge way when he was on the field, hitting just .103/.314/.128. He missed most of the year after straining his rib cage in early August.
Andrew Benintendi will be 26-years-old in the 2021 season and he’s owed $6,600,000. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2022 and should be free agency bound following that season unless he spends a lot of time in the minor leagues before the end of the 2022 season.
So, back to the question of the day: Should the Cincinnati Reds look at trading for Andrew Benintendi? That depends on a whole lot of things. Without other moves it’s a real tough sell given that the outfield already has questions about who is going to play, especially if the National League isn’t going to have the designated hitter in 2021.
Beyond just the playing time, we’ve seen the organization seemingly involved in trade rumors that involve anyone on the roster that seems tradeable who also makes any real amount of money – a sign, that along with actually trading Raisel Iglesias and non-tendering Archie Bradley (among others) indicates the team is looking to spend a lot less money than last season. Picking up their eleventy-billionth outfielder, who isn’t making a ton of money, but also isn’t making league minimum could be a bit too much for the front office to get behind.
If the team, though, can find some creative ways to move a current outfielder in another deal that would open up a spot in the lineup, and from their perspective also free up some money to pay Andrew Benitendi, then things could make a lot more sense.
At his best, Andrew Benintendi has been an All-Star caliber player. In 2018 he put up 4.5 WAR for the Red Sox. Among the current Reds outfielders no one has been remotely close to that in any season they’ve had in the Major Leagues, with Nick Castellanos coming the closest with a 2.9 WAR season in 2018. If Benintendi’s at his best, he’s likely an upgrade over anyone that Cincinnati could send to the outfield.
It’s possible that the team could try to be creative with Nick Senzel in order to open up some additional at-bats for Benintendi if he were to be acquired. Senzel’s experience at both third and second base could lead to him playing some there, but that would also mean you are pulling Eugenio Suárez or Mike Moustakas out of the lineup, and that’s a hard sell, too.
Nothing is impossible. But if the Cincinnati Reds were to acquire Andrew Benintendi, it would almost have to be a part of a larger plan that would involve trading someone else in order to open up playing time somewhere else for someone. Perhaps a trade to acquire him could even involve such a player heading to Boston.