The early returns on the Andrew Benintendi trade don't exactly scream "WIN!" for the Red Sox.
Franchy Cordero, the only big league piece shipped to Boston, is mired in a 1-for-34 slump that will almost certainly land him in front of Worcester's replica Green Monster sometime this week.
Benintendi, meanwhile, is red hot, hitting .419 with three homers and six RBIs in his last nine games, raising his average from .193 to .272 and helping the Royals maintain their surprising hold on first place in the American League Central at 15-10.
Were the deal just Benintendi for Cordero, it would already be a K.O. Of course, were it just Benintendi for Cordero, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would be facing charges of gross negligence.
There were other pieces to that deal. A lot of them. Not only did the Red Sox receive hard-throwing right-hander Josh Winckowski from the Mets, they're also expecting three players to be named later -- two from Kansas City and one from New York.
This is partially a function of the pandemic, since no one had seen minor leaguers play games that mattered in over a year when the trade was completed in February. It also speaks to Bloom's creativity, since the Mets joined the deal because of Boston's relationship with de facto general manager Zack Scott, their former assistant GM.
And what all that means is we won't even be able to think about declaring a winner or loser until the Red Sox receive those three PTBNLs.
"We know that in the long run any organization is going to be only as good as its pipeline," Bloom said the night of the deal. "That's true, no matter what your market size is. That's true, no matter what your payroll is. And that's something we need to address. So when these opportunities come up, you're always looking at those trade-offs, you always have to be looking for opportunities to add to that pipeline."
The player from the Mets should be useful, seeing as New York acquired Kansas City's No. 8 prospect, outfielder Khalil Lee, in its part of the trade. The Red Sox had already identified Lee as a potential flip to New York because they knew Scott valued the toolsy speedster, who was Baseball Prospectus's No. 61 overall prospect as recently as 2019.
They're already happy with Winckowski, a hard-throwing right-hander who posted a 3.68 ERA in five spring training appearances, including one start, while throwing a mid-90s fastball. "You can see the stuff," manager Alex Cora said during camp.
The Red Sox technically don't need to receive the two players from Kansas City until August, but Hall of Fame scribe Peter Gammons reported that they will choose from a list of four players one month after the start of the minor league season, which opens on Tuesday.
The prospects are likely to be second tier and not from either team's top 10 or Baseball America's top 100, but that doesn't mean they won't be future big leaguers. After all, rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock was considered a mid-level Yankees prospect, and now he's a legitimate contributor in the Red Sox bullpen.
All of that said, we should leave open the possibility that the Royals are the ultimate winners. They certainly acquired the most proven player, and after a brutal start, Benintendi has begun rediscovering the stroke that made him the No. 7 overall pick and a potential All-Star in Boston.
"The last week or so it seems like I've been driving the fastball to left-center," Benintendi told Royals reporters, including the Kansas City Star. "I'm staying on it. I'm not peeling out and rolling over. I'm staying through the ball and kind of just trusting what I've been working on and what I'm seeing."
He's clearly a better player than Cordero, but that's not how this deal will ultimately be judged.