All right. There it is. The first trade that could have theoretically been held up by the Juan Soto stuff, so I wonder if there is some clarity now that is going to allow more things to move. Earlier tonight, we were wondering where all the trades were.
The Yankees have their outfield addition, and it ain’t Juan Soto or Ian Happ:
Benintendi was among the better rental bats available this year, so we’ll see what the return looks like for the Royals. Three prospects suggests they might be of the fringier type. I suppose I hope that the return is very strong, though, all else equal – you want to know the market for sellers is good. Benintendi, 27, is a free agent after this season, and is hitting .321/.389/.399/127 wRC+ on the year. The .368 BABIP would make me nervous about him sustaining anything close to that current slash line, but, hey, not my prospects.
We’ll see if Benintendi opted to get vaccinated so that he could travel to Toronto with the Yankees later this year. That was thought to be a factor in these talks.
Meanwhile, the trade removes a potential trade partner for the Cubs on Happ, I would think, and probably is also reflective of the Yankees decided they could no longer wait on the Nationals and Soto (or they knew they were out).
Keep an eye on the Cardinals and Padres, among others, on Juan Soto in the next 24 hours (not *because* of the Benintendi trade, mind you, but because of what it might signal is already underway). As for Happ and the Cubs, I think they have seen there are a large number of interested teams, and it’s possible they will be more methodical. With the extra year of control, obviously they don’t HAVE to move Happ, even if a trade has become the expectation.
UPDATE: Like I said, getting three prospects back for a Benintendi rental suggested more of a quantity-type return:
Way and Sikkeman rank just at the edge of the top 20 in the Yankees’ deep system, according to MLB Pipeline. Similar range for the two at FanGraphs. Champlain doesn’t show up on the lists, but he’s a 22-year-old 2021 draftee putting up ridiculous peripherals at Low-A this year.
Quick eyeball? Quantity, yes, but not a bad return for a rental. I’d call it less, on paper, than the Cubs got last year for their rentals, but each of those three were arguably more valuable than Benintendi for various reasons.
Does this suggest anything about the return for the Cubs’ rental bat, Willson Contreras? Well, I *think* he’s quite a bit more valuable than Benintendi? I also think we probably don’t know just how well regarded these three pitching prospects really are by the industry (when you go by rankings this time of year, you’re flying a little bit blind on sometimes old information). But I can say with 100% confidence that if the Cubs got a similar return for Contreras, a lot of folks would lose their minds.
UPDATE II (Michael): Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Dodgers were also “in the mix” for Benintendi tonight, which I bring to your attention because of Ian Happ. We already know that Toronto has been connected to Happ this trade season, so the odds of a deal there may have ticked up a bit tonight with one alternative off the board. By contrast, I never got the sense that the Dodgers were in on Benintendi (let alone Happ), so that’s a bit of a surprise. Maybe they’re another new potential trade partner.