FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Benitendi or Moncada? Moncada or Benitendi? The question dominated news cycles and talk radio last July as the Red Sox entertained the possibility of trading for then-White Sox ace Chris Sale.
The deal did go down but not until after the season. And it was Yoan Moncada, along with 110 mile-per-hour fastball throwing phenom Michael Kopech, shipped to Chicago for Sale.
But how close was Andrew Benitendi to being part of the deal?
To listen to him tell it . . . very.
"I remember I was in downtown St. Louis at Subway with one of my college teammates," Benitendi said Monday morning, "and my agent texted me and said you're either going to go or not in the next two minutes. So I was like, Ok, there's not much I can do.' "
Benitendi was able to keep his cool for those tense two minutes while others were deciding the course of his future. And he was relieved to find out he was staying in Boston.
"I think so. Obviously I know everybody, so it was good to come back to that."
However, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that despite the few moments of trepidation Benitendi may have endured, the Red Sox really didn’t want to give up on this particular prized prospect.
“We were looking at him as a starter with our big-league club. We were looking at him as our left fielder.” Dombrowski said later Monday. “We were never planning on it. We like him a lot. Our goal was to have him as our left fielder. We never came close to trading him in the winter time.”
There were others equally pleased that Benitendi ended up staying in Boston. Notably David Price, who was blown away that the Red Sox were able to acquire Sale without giving up their best young player.
"That means a lot." Benitendi said. "Dave goes around and works his butt off every day and to have someone established like that go out and say something like that about you . . . it's pretty special."
Special is what the Sox are hoping Benitendi will be. The 22-year-old looked every bit the part in his brief stint in the majors last season and in the playoffs. This year he comes to camp noticeably bulked up, with more muscle added to his slender frame, as he hopes to justify the Red Sox' faith in him and validate their decision to keep him.
"Yeah, that kind of shows what they expected of me and they have belief in me and that gives me confidence," he said. "Hopefully I can go out and play well for everybody in this organization."