The New York Yankees have traded for Andrew Benintendi, acquiring the outfielder from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for three minor league pitchers.
Benintendi, 28, is a free agent at the end of the season, and is having a solid season for the Royals, putting up a .320/.387/.398 slash line and a 2.4 bWAR this year. Benintendi was acquired by the Royals from the Boston Red Sox after the 2020 season, on the heels of a couple of relatively down seasons by Benintendi. Benintendi, who has been connected to the Yankees in numerous rumors for a while, will be the Yankees’ starting left fielder. Benintendi won a Gold Glove in left for the Royals in 2021.
The Yankees are up by 11.5 games in the American League East, so a playoff spot and a division title is all but guaranteed. However, they are 5-10 in their last fifteen games, which has reduced their lead over Houston for the #1 seed in the American League playoffs to two games, and there has been a desire to improve the lineup for October. In addition, the additional outfield depth is insurance in case either of the Yankees’ injury prone outfielders — Giancarlo Stanton, who is on the injured list currently, and Aaron Judge — end up missing significant time.
There had been questions about the level of interest in Benintendi by A.L. East teams due to Benintendi not being able to travel to Toronto in a road trip earlier this month because he was not vaccinated for COVID-19, but per national baseball reporters, Benintendi supposedly has indicated he would get vaccinated if he were with a playoff team, so it seems like that will be a non-issue.
This would also seem to be an acknowledgement, if there was any question, that the Joey Gallo trade was a bust for New York. Gallo is slashing .161/.285/.343 this year, and even Scott Boras, on Jon Heyman’s podcast, tacitly acknowledged that Gallo would perform better somewhere other than New York. With the addition of Benintendi, once Stanton returns from the injured list, it would not seem that there would be a place — or a need — for Gallo on the active roster. One has to assume Gallo will be dealt — to San Diego, would be my guess — before the August 2 trade deadline.
The Royals got pitchers T.J. Sikkema, Beck Way, and Chandler Champlain from the Yankees. None of them would be in the top tiers of Yankees prospects, generally ranked in the twenties or lower in the system. I would think Martin Perez and Andrew Benintendi would be expected to bring back similar returns in deadline deals, so if the Rangers deal Perez, this would be a decent benchmark as to what to expect in return.