The Houston Astros are rumored to be in talks to acquire Andrew Benintendi. What would he bring to the outfield? And will he be too expensive?
On Tuesday, Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal reported that the Boston Red Sox were exploring a trade for outfielder Andrew Benintendi, adding that the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers and the Oakland A’s are in the mix. The Red Sox are looking for pitching and out fielding prospects in return.
The Houston Astros were thinking about drafting Benintendi with one of their first round picks in 2015, but most of that front office is now with the Baltimore Orioles, so that connection isn’t there anymore.
Benintendi hit the major leagues in 2016, and as a second-place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, he peaked in his 2018 season. While coming back down to his rookie numbers in 2019, the left-handed hitter is slightly an above average hitter with career numbers of .273/.353/.435 at the plate.
2020 started out to be a rough season for the left fielder as he only played 14 games. A rib injury sidelined him for the rest of the season before hitting only .103/.314/.128. He did, however, stand out with his glove. Benintendi has been a reliable left fielder for the Red Sox. With a career fielding percentage of .985, it doesn’t show the plays he has made, especially against the Astros in the 2018 ALCS. The 26-year-old has only played left and center fields, but almost his whole career has been in the shadow of the Green Monster. This could prevent his fielding percentage from being really high, but with the Crawford Boxes in left, Benintendi could excel and be an upgrade from the aging Michael Brantley.
Since the Red Sox are looking for a pitcher or an outfielder in return, I will drop a few names that could be in the talks. First off, Forrest Whitley, Bryan Abreu, and Luis Garcia will not be in those talks. The three right-handers are the future of the Astros staff and hold more value than a defense first outfielder.
So, three prospects I see as trade candidates are RHP Hunter Brown, RHP Jairo Solis, or OF Colin Barber. The three are projected to be MLB ready come 2022-23, but the Houston Astros are in a position to move one of these three for a defensive replacement in left. Depending on how ready the Red Sox want their prospect to be, the names could look different, but these are young guys who could make an impact in 2-3 years.
This rumor doesn’t mean Brantley is off the table. He will not cost as much as other large market outfield prospects and Benintendi could move over to center field and Houston could put Kyle Tucker in right. It is too early to tell how they will shift the outfield, but the team is in talks and a deal hasn’t been made. The Astros are in need of a center fielder and a leadoff hitter. Benintendi can fit the defensive role with his agility and speed if needed, but his strikeout rate climbed the last two years. He is known as a two-hole hitter so there is a chance he could hit first if needed.
Benintendi is a cheap trade that wouldn’t blow up the minor league system, and the Red Sox are paying him $6.6 million for 2021 as they avoided his first year of arbitration. He will be arb-eligible come 2022.