The New York Yankees announced that they’ve acquired All Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitching prospects Chandler Champlin, T.J. Sikkema, and Beck Way.
Benintendi was named an All Star for the first time in his career as he hit .321/.389/.399 (127 wRC+) in 92 games as a Royal this season. Benintendi’s 2.1 fWAR is already the second best he has produced in a single season only trailing his 2018 campaign with the World Series champion Red Sox when he had an outstanding 5.0 fWAR. Despite a great 2018 campaign, Benintendi regressed in 2019 (but was still a solid player) and struggled on the field and with injuries in the pandemic shortened 2020 season leading the Red Sox to trade him to the Royals following that season.
Benintendi had a bounceback 2021 season, but he produced an identical fWAR total (1.8) to 2019 as opposed to returning back towards 2018 form. However, in 2022 Benintendi has completely changed his approach at the plate to prioritize getting on base and putting the ball in play rather than hitting for power. Benintendi’s .339 AVG, .389 OBP, 13.5 K%, and O-Swing% so far in 2022 are all career bests while his 10.1 BB% is slightly above his career average and ranks in the 70th percentile among all Major Leaguers this season.
Benintendi’s new approach at the plate and left-handed bat fit in well to balance out the Yankees’ lineup. Besides DJ LeMahieu no Yankee has a BB% above 10% while also striking out less than 15% and Benintendi’s .389 OBP is now the second best on the team only behind Matt “Bonds” Carpenter’s .421 clip. Additionally, the Yankees will now have the option of starting four lefties with Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Hicks (switch), Carpenter, and Benintendi in the fold to split up the stacked right-handed bats of LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres.
The Yankees originally thought that they found the missing piece to their outfield at the trade deadline last year by acquiring Joey Gallo, but he just hasn’t worked out. Gallo is hitting an underwhelming .160/.296/.371 (89 wRC+) since joining the Bronx Bombers and has struck out in 38.4% of his at bats. With the acquisition of Benintendi, it’s safe to assume that Gallo will likely find himself in another uniform in a few days. The Yankees are essentially replacing Gallo with the exact opposite player of himself.
|Joey Gallo||.161||.183||48.0 (89th percentile)||17.3 (98th percentile)||40.5 (1st percentile)|
|Andrew Benintendi||.321||.079||38.4 (39th percentile)||4.4 (17th percentile)||19.8 (78th percentile)|
Although Benintendi’s average and on-base clips are spectacular, there is a bit of concern if he will be able to maintain his production. Benintendi has been BABIP dependent this year as his .366 BABAIP is easily the highest of his career and the seventh highest in the Majors while his barrel% and GB% are simultaneously the worst of his career. However, Benintendi could potentially see a big power increase as his home stadium moves from the spacious Kauffman Stadium to the short porch Yankee Stadium. Benintendi’s .079 ISO and .399 SLG are career worsts, so maybe the change of scenery as well as being placed into a much better lineup will help improve his power.
As for the Royals, they didn’t really have much of a choice but to trade Benintendi. With the team dwindling to a 39-59 record, Benintendi set to become a free agent following the season, and the market expecting to net seller generous trade packages; it made too much sense for the team to trade their All Star outfielder. The headliner deaded to Kansas City is T.J. Sikkema who has a 2.48 in 36.1 innings in A+, was ranked the Yankees’ 17th best prospect by FanGraphs and 19th best prospect by MLB.com, and was the 38th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Beck Way has also pitched well in A+ with a 3.73 ERA in 72.1 innings and was ranked the Yankees’ 21st best prospect by MLB.com and 28th best prospect by FanGraphs. The final pitcher the Royals acquired is Chandler Champlin. Champlin was the Yankees’ ninth-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and has a 4.30 ERA with an outstanding 30.5 K% in 73.1 innings in A ball.
Yankees A, Royals A-