Could the Red Sox trade Andrew Benintendi? Certainly. But right now, he remains in the team’s plans.
In fact, Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers is scheduled to travel to visit Benintendi — coming off a 2020 campaign that lasted just 52 plate appearances before a season-ending rib cage injury — on Monday. Benintendi has been working out in Nashville this offseason while looking to leave behind a dreadful 14-game stretch in which he hit .103/.314/.128.
Even so, the fact that Benintendi is working with team personnel isn’t a guarantee of a future with the Red Sox.
Jim Bowden of The Athletic reported via Twitter that the Red Sox are in “serious trade talks with multiple teams” about Benintendi, with the team seeking prospects — particularly outfielders and/or pitchers — in return.
A major league source on a team that has inquired about Benintendi confirmed that the Red Sox have indeed been open to discussing the 26-year-old outfielder this winter, though that’s not a guarantee that he’ll be dealt — particularly at a time when his 2020 struggles have depressed his trade value.
Another major league source characterized the Red Sox’ conversations about Benintendi as “due diligence” and “nothing out of the ordinary,” at a time when teams often gauge the value of virtually all of their players.
Benintendi is slated to make $6.6 million in 2021, the second year of a two-year, $10 million deal he signed prior to the 2020 season. The team holds an additional year of control over him before he’s eligible for free agency following the 2022 season.
There are members of the organization who believe that Benintendi’s track record (an elite college player who was taken as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, blitzed through the minors, then performed at an All-Star-caliber level in the first half of 2018) and skills suggest a strong bounceback candidate.
That said, the Sox could look to deal him to add to their talent base while looking to the free agent market for an outfielder, where a number of options — including center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., as well as left fielders Marcell Ozuna and Michael Brantley — remain available. The Sox are already in the market for a center fielder, with Bradley an acknowledged target.