(Michael’s Note: Okay, Patrick. As our resident White Sox fan, you can write this one up.)
They finally did something! Free agent outfielder Andrew Benintendi is reportedly heading to the South Side on a five-year contract worth a (franchise-record) $75 million, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Benintendi’s new $75 million deal with the White Sox passes the previous high for the White Sox, dished out to Yasmani Grandal in November of 2019, a four-year deal worth $73 million.
An overpay? Maybe, yes, at least compared to projections compiled before the offseason. FanGraphs had Benintendi pegged as their 17th-best free agent in line for a $56 million deal. But as we know, the market has exploded this offseason, with many players blowing their projections out of the water. So, the price that the White Sox paid for Benintendi feels like a lot less of an overpay, considering how the market had played out thus far.
The White Sox get a 28-year-old on-base machine with a line-drive hitting profile that projects plenty of doubles and singles, a welcomed change of pace from the White Sox core hitter, who are largely (supposed to be) power hitters.
This move almost certainly means that Eloy Jimenez will become the full-time DH for the White Sox, with Andrew Vaughn moving to first base after Jose Abreu departed to Houston this offseason, with Benintendi slotting into the everyday left field spot.
Michael: In terms of Cubs impact, there’s not too much. The Cubs were, at one time, seeking a left-handed hitting outfielder, but they were never connected to Benintendi and have since sign Cody Bellinger. I suppose this could get the Michael Conforto market moving (Joey Gallo also just signed a deal with the Twins), but we were a bit skeptical on the Cubs-Conforto connection to begin with.
No, the bigger impact here is on the Cubs’ extension efforts for Ian Happ, whose number just got a VERY nice comp/floor. I’m thinking, if he extends this offseason, he’s got a pretty good argument to get at LEAST the Benintendi deal. If he doesn’t, and he’s able to repeat his 2022 performance next season, he could be in line for a lot more than that.