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Tomase: Can Cordero prove Benintendi trade wasn't a loss for Red Sox?

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Franchy Cordero

The hope of any quantity-over-quality deal is that the former eventually yields the latter. The Red Sox may have successfully gamed this formula when dealing away outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

The trade in February of 2021 that sent Benintendi to the Royals brought back a slew of prospects, plus one borderline big leaguer. The prospects haven't amounted to much -- although there's hope for Triple-A right-hander Josh Winckowski -- but the borderline big leaguer is making his presence felt.

Franchy Cordero looked like a bust last year and an afterthought at the start of this one, but he has altered that narrative considerably.

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Cordero delivered the highlight of his Red Sox career on Sunday, launching a mammoth walk-off grand slam to beat the Mariners and run Boston's winning streak to a season-high five games. In the process, he offered a reminder that final trade verdicts can only be rendered with the benefit of time.

With Benintendi fresh off a Gold Glove 2021 season and hitting .329 with the Royals this year, it's easy to say the Red Sox got fleeced. But Cordero has made a difference since being recalled from Triple-A Worcester on April 29. Filling in primarily for struggling first baseman Bobby Dalbec, Cordero is hitting .231 with one homer, seven RBIs, and a .709 OPS.

That might not sound like much, but he's controlling the strike zone (six walks in 52 at-bats) and serving as a threat at a spot where Dalbec has only posted a .504 OPS. It's no coincidence that his arrival has accompanied the team's resurgence.


Needless to say, Cordero's impact could not have been predicted when the Red Sox designated him for assignment last October, only for no one to take a flyer. He returned to Boston, opened the season in the minors, and has made his way back to the big leagues.

"He's great," said manager Alex Cora. "There's a lot of guys in that clubhouse, they're very happy. Very quietly, he brings a lot of joy to the team, a lot of energy. Last year it was the wave, now they've got whatever they're doing now, and he's the one that starts all that stuff. To put in the work, it's gratifying.

"Last year, it wasn't great. We designated him for assignment, but we were happy he was back with us. From the Dominican Republic to spring training, you can see it. He's doing an outstanding job controlling the zone. We're very proud of him."

Cordero hit only .189 last year and was a non-factor after mid-August. The Red Sox could've easily cut their losses, but Cordero's immense physical gifts -- be it prodigious power or elite sprint speed -- made the 6-foot-3, 226-pounder perpetually tantalizing. What if he put it all together?

He's not there yet, but he's filling a need for a Red Sox club that's finally starting to hit after a disastrous start, buoyed in part by the bottom of the order.

That's more like it

Cordero's OPS with Red Sox in 2021 (48 games)
Cordero's OPS with Red Sox in 2022 (18 games)

"We've got some talented guys who can carry this offense, but I think at the end of the day, everybody has to contribute. The guys at the bottom of the lineup, they're good players, they're good hitters and they know the game," Cora said. "It's good to see them taking the walks, going the other way."

Sunday's homer came on an 0-2 slider that Cordero didn't miss in a 4-4 game. The 419-foot shot was a no-doubter and completed Boston's first sweep of the season. It also gave Cordero six extra-base hits in just 18 games.

That compares favorably to Benintendi's eight extra-base hits in 40 games, his .329 average comprised mostly of singles.

"I just wanted to have good contact with the ball and try to reach base," Cordero said. "That's been my approach all year, and it wasn't going to change today."

The Red Sox are happy to have him. What looked an unmitigated disaster of a trade now has hope just over a year later.