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Red Sox Discussing Andrew Benintendi In Trade Talks

The Boston Red Sox have been in “serious trade talks” about the possibility of moving left fielder Andrew Benintendi for prospects, writes The Athletic’s Jim Bowden (via Twitter). The Red Sox have a particular interest in pitchers and outfielders, notes Bowden, but that’s likely a starting point more than a mandate. However serious discussions have been thus far, there is no deal pending.

There may be some bombast to Bowden’s report, which is only to say that there is a wide range of interpretations for “serious trade talks.” That could speak to an earnestness on Boston’s part in terms of their willingness to deal Benintendi, or it could reference a specific exchange of names, or something else entirely. Regardless, it’s not a shocking development for Benintendi’s name to emerge on the hot stove. Boston would be selling low on their 26-year-old outfielder, however, who is coming off a 43 wRC+ showing in 14 games in an injury-shortened 2020.

His 2020 performance aside, there is some concern that Benintendi doesn’t run quite as well as he used to, which could have major repurcussions on his game, considering he’s never been boasted quite as much power as one might want from a corner outfielder (.162 career ISO). Per Statcast, Benintendi’s spring speed has slowed from 28.6 feet per second as a 22-year-old in 2016 to 27.7 ft/s as a 24-year-old in 2018 to 26.6 ft/s as a 26-year-old in the short sample of 2020. That’s a rather stunning fall from the 89th percentile to the 43rd percentile.

As a prospect, Benintendi had a monster hit tool with the possibility for big power, and his game hardly predicated solely on his foot speed. Remember, he was the No. 1 ranked prospect in the game as recently as 2017 per Baseball America, who wrote in their prospect report after he made his debut in 2016: “Multiple evaluators believe that Benintendi has a chance to be a perennial all-star who competes for batting titles. ’He’s a once-in-a-decade hitter,’ one said. Benintendi combines excellent hand-eye coordination with the pitch recognition to avoid strike zone expansion. His precisely-tuned swing, with his strong forearms and core along with a rare knack for putting the bat on the ball, allow him to drive the ball with surprising authority given his diminutive stature.” Certainly, a team that sees even a portion of that upside would have more than enough cause to make a run at Benintendi, depending on Boston’s asking price.

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