Andrew Benintendi has changed teams, but he hasn’t changed hotels. He was still staying with the Royals on Friday, and the outfielder spent time with his old teammates after his new club, the Yankees, beat them on Thursday.
The scene was never stranger than in the immediate moments after the baseball world learned that Benintendi had been traded to the Yankees on Wednesday night, the day before the start of a series between the two clubs in the Bronx. He and a few teammates had agreed to meet in a room to play cards, but first retreated to their individual rooms. Their phones started buzzing.
“Benny told us how it all went,” Kansas City utility Hunter Dozier said before the Yankees beat the Royals 11-5 Friday in the Bronx. “Then we just hung out and played cards as usual.”
According to the former Benintendi team, the Yankees struck gold by acquiring an outfielder with excellent contact qualities in the middle of one of his best seasons.
The 28-year-old, who had an RBI on a field single in the Yankees’ eight-run eighth inning and went 1-for-3 with a walk Friday, hit .320 and posted a .387 on-base percentage in 93 games with Kansas City.
“We used to joke that every day, Benny is going to get at least two hits and a walk,” Dozier said of his season-and-a-half teammate. “He’s just been very consistent this year. Finding hits, getting walks, playing really good defense. It’s impressive to watch him play. »
A downside for the Yankees is Benintendi’s unvaccinated status, which kept him from playing a series in Toronto earlier this season. The left-handed hitter, who essentially replaces Joey Gallo, said Thursday he remains “open-minded” about the vaccine. The Yankees travel to Toronto for a series in September, and a playoff series against the Blue Jays is a possibility.
Another downside is Benintendi’s lack of power. He hit three home runs this season before the trade a year after hitting 17.
According to Statcast, his home run total would be doubled to six if he had played all of his games in the Bronx this year.
“He’s a guy who can do anything,” said Royals second baseman and right fielder Whit Merrifield. “I know his power numbers aren’t there, but he [was] play in the biggest and toughest park to hit a home run in baseball.
“He can sprint, he can steal bases [four with the Royals], he can hit for average, he can hit for power. They have a complete, all-round hitter, a defenseman, and just a great teammate. It’s a slam dunk for any team that came out and got it.
Benintendi spent his first five major league seasons with the Red Sox, with whom he won the World Series in 2018. During the playoffs that year, he excelled against the Yankees in the ALDS, posting a .444 on-base percentage in a Boston series. won in four games.
In 21 career playoff games, Benintendi has a .729 OPS.
“The experience of having been in that situation helps,” said Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who won the World Series with the Nationals in 2019. “He knows what to expect on and off the pitch because there’s a lot of media and stuff like that in the playoffs and the World Series.
The consensus of several people who know Benintendi best was that he is both a relaxed, easygoing person away from the pitch and an uncompromising competitor.
“He’s a guy who will fit into any clubhouse because he works hard. He’s calm. He’s a great guy.