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Andrew Benintendi
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Baseball Daily Dose

Benintendi heads to KC

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: February 12, 2021, 1:14 am ET

It wasn't long ago teams likely couldn't pry Andrew Benintendi from the Red Sox front office no matter how hard they tried.

This week, the Sox sold low on their 2015 first-round pick, sending him to the Royals as part of a three-team deal.

Benintendi landed in Kansas City, outfield prospect Khalil Lee went from the Royals to the Mets and outfielder Franchy Cordero, right-hander Josh Winckowski and three players to be named later were sent to the Red Sox in Wednesday's deal. The Royals also received $2.8 million from the Red Sox to help cover Benintendi's $6.6 million salary for the 2021 season.

The big move here is Benintendi to the Royals, a welcome blank page for the embattled 26-year-old. After bursting onto the scene with 20 homers and 20 steals in 151 games in his rookie year in 2017, he put up another strong season in 2018 before sliding the wrong direction each of the past two seasons. Last year, Benintendi hit just .103/.314/.128 in 14 games before a right ribcage strain ended his season.

A new team, a new city and a new start, free from the expectations that come with his pedigree and early success could be just what Benintendi needs. Royals general manager Dayton Moore hopes so.

“We just believe in the player,” Moore said after the trade. “He’s 26 years old, and he’s always performed. He’s performed at every level. We are confident that he’ll be able to get back to his accustomed level. He’s just entering his prime. And we do know from all the information we were able to obtain that he’s worked his tail off this offseason, he’s in great shape, he’s in a great frame of mind and he’s ready to go.”

The draft cost isn't prohibitive -- Benintendi's down 2020 season has him going after pick 250 in FantasyPros' consensus ADP this spring -- and even in a mildly disappointing 2019 season the outfielder hit 13 homers and stole 10 bases with a .266/.343/.431 line in 138 games. It's not hard to believe the rib cage injury that ended his 2020 campaign might have also affected his performance prior to hitting the shelf, so drafters would be justified in leaning into the bounceback narrative and snagging Benintendi as the Royals did -- as a buy-low candidate.

Cordero is now on his third team in less than a year after he went from the Padres to the Royals last July. The Red Sox suddenly have an opening in their outfield with Benintendi going the other way, but the team also signed Enrique Hernandez earlier this winter and agreed to terms with Marwin Gonzalez on Thursday.

Both players have outfielder gloves and can at least play there if needed, and with Hunter Renfroe in tow and Michael Chavis having also logged time in the outfield last season, the playing time picture is too crowded to feel good about any one of the Sox outfielders not named Alex Verdugo getting a full season's worth of at-bats. It would be interesting to see what Franchy, a tantalizing power-speed player, could do with regular run, but he'll have to earn his way into those plate appearances in Boston. He's a guy best left on watch lists in most mixed leagues right now.

Lee is an interesting return for the Mets, a guy who cracked Baseball Prospectus' top-101 prospects list ahead of the 2019 season. He stole 53 bases at Double-A in 2019 and also has 37 homers over parts of four minor league seasons. It's unclear whether the Mets will keep Lee with an eye on him being a future contributor or whether they'll try to flip him for more immediate help -- more on that shortly -- but he's a nice piece for a team that didn't have to send a major leaguer out in the deal.

Mets, Cubs talking Bryant deal?

One scenario that follows the Lee acquisition is the Mets turning around and using him or other prospects to acquire another former star who's fallen on harder times recently.

Kris Bryant, whose name has been involved in trade rumors for months, may be back in play for the Mets, according to SNY's Andy Martino. Previously, Martino had reported that talks between the Mets and Cubs were no longer active, but he tweeted Thursday that "it has changed since." Martino said it's "unclear how likely it is to happen, but there is at least something there." 

Both teams' interest in a Bryant deal makes sense, or as much sense as trading a former Rookie of the Year and MVP can make. The Mets, of course, made one of the winter's biggest moves in trading for ace shortstop Francisco Lindor, and their aggressiveness has made them a frontrunner in the NL East.

Despite that offensive and defensive upgrade at short, though, the team is not as sold on J.D. Davis' defense at third base and has not publicly committed to him as their starter at the hot corner. With World Series aspirations, it would stand to reason they'd like to upgrade over Davis if possible, maybe even sending Davis the other way in a deal.

The Cubs' relationship with Bryant began to sour the day they sent him to the minors to game his service time in 2015. Now staring at a season in which they've got one foot in and one foot out of the contention window, dealing Bryant and getting something of value for him now makes more sense than keeping him and watching him leave for a draft pick next winter.

Whether this gets done remains to be seen -- the Mets already used some dry powder to acquire Lindor, so they may not be keen on using some more to secure another player with an expiring contract that they'll either have to pony up to keep or let walk at season's end -- but there at least seems to be some smoke. Now we'll see if there's any fire.

Duvallll! Slugger lands in Florida

Florida sports fans are no stranger to cries of "Duuuval."

Now, they'll get a chance to bellow "Duvallll" as well.

On Tuesday, the Marlins and free agent outfielder Adam Duvall agreed on a one-year, $5 million contract that includes a $7 million mutual option for 2022. The deal has a $3 million buyout.

The signing is a nice addition for the Marlins late in free agency, as Duvall is coming off a powerful 2020 season. The 32-year-old mashed 16 homers in just 57 games for the Braves last year, posting a .237/.301/.532 line as the team's primary left fielder.

In Miami, how the playing time breakdown will shake out is less clear. Starling Marte is locked in as the team's everyday center fielder, but in the corners the Marlins have at least five guys -- Duvall, Corey Dickerson, Garrett Cooper, Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra, not to mention Monte Harrison -- for two spots. Cooper can play first base and has been rumored to be of interest to the Dodgers in trade talks, but otherwise the Fish seem to have a camp battle on their hands.

The club isn't paying Duvall to be a guy who gets 300 at-bats, though, so he will presumably get the lion's share of work in one of the corner spots. With enough at-bats, that prodigious power should be allowed to play up, even if he'll never post a batting average worth talking about. Drafters seeking late power can get Duvall closer to pick 400 than 300 at the moment, but that discount is likely fleeting now that he's got a home. Even so, the price won't be prohibitive for his late-round pop.

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