Sox land 5; Benintendi to KC in 3-team trade

Boston adds OF Cordero, RHP Winckowski, 3 players to be named

February 11th, 2021

BOSTON -- , a cornerstone on the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox, has been dealt to the Royals as part of a three-team trade that also includes the Mets, the clubs announced Wednesday night.

Boston received outfielder and two players to be named later from Kansas City, and right-hander and a player to be named later from New York. Outfielder Khalil Lee, who was the Royals' No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was dealt to the Mets.

Trade Breakdown
Red Sox get:
OF Franchy Cordero and two players to be named (from KC), RHP Josh Winckowski and player to be named (from NYM)
Royals get: OF Andrew Benintendi (from BOS) and cash considerations (from BOS)
Mets get: OF Khalil Lee (from KC)

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox have been driven to add young, cost-controllable players while also improving the depth of their farm system. In this deal, Bloom says he was able to do both -- and thanked Benintendi for his performance.

“I think in many ways the accomplishments of homegrown payers are the most special to organizations, and Andrew is a great example of that,” Bloom said. “There are so many people who played a role in bringing him to the organization, helping him become who he became and supporting him along the way. Obviously, Andrew deserves the most credit for what he accomplished, but for all of those people, there's a ton to be proud of.”

Bloom indicated that Cordero -- once a promising power prospect for the Padres who was set back by injuries then traded to the Royals last July -- will get every chance to earn a prominent spot in the Boston outfield.

(center field) and (corner spots) are other two projected starters in the outfield for manager Alex Cora. can play the outfield at times, but the club prefers him to be the primary DH.

Bloom minimized any correlation between the trade of Benintendi and the chance of re-signing free agent center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who has played his entire career in Boston.

“As far as the composition of our roster, you can look at it very similarly with a very different profile of player [in Cordero], but still someone who fits a similar niche on the club,” Bloom said. “We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to find a fit with Jackie, and we also recognize that may not happen. We’re going to stay engaged there and see how that plays out, but the two were somewhat separate for us as we looked at this, because the fit with Cordero was so clean in terms of how we put our roster together.”

Benintendi is set to earn $6.6 million this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility in 2022. The Red Sox will send $2.8 million to the Royals to help cover his ’21 salary.

The Red Sox will have Cordero under control through ’23.

“Anytime you're looking at something like this, I think a lot of it just comes down to where you set the bar, at what point are you getting enough value, enough talent to make it worth making a move like this,” Bloom said.

Benintendi, who was promoted to the Red Sox during an AL pennant race 14 months after he was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, first surfaced in trade rumors a month ago.

The trade of the 26-year-old left fielder continues a reshaping of Boston’s roster that has occurred steadily since Bloom was hired to run the front office following the 2019 season. A year ago, the Sox dealt superstar outfielder Mookie Betts and veteran lefty David Price to the Dodgers for Verdugo, shortstop Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong.

“I know for our fans, this is not the first time in the last year-plus that they have seen a player that is important to them and important to the organization leave, and I know that's tough, I know that's painful,” Bloom said. “We're obviously doing what we think is right for the organization.”

After finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2017, Benintendi had his best overall season to date in ’18, slashing .290/.366/.465 with 16 homers, 87 RBIs and 21 steals. He also made a game-saving, game-ending catch in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series at Houston to give Boston a commanding 3-1 lead in that series. Benintendi also made a memorable and majestic leaping catch to rob the Dodgers’ Brian Dozier of extra bases in Game 2 of the World Series.

But Benintendi declined in 2019 (.266/.343/.431) and opened the shortened 2020 season in a 4-for-39 slump before being shut down for the remainder of the year with a right rib injury. Aside from his slippage on offense, highlight-reel defensive plays were less frequent the past two years.

“One thing we had to weigh in working through this was recognizing that Andrew was coming off a year -- and I think you could argue two years -- where he was capable of a lot more than he showed on the field, and we believed he was going to produce more than what he showed in those two years,” Bloom said. “We had to weigh that against the fact that when you’re talking about potentially trading a player, the amount of time you have left with the player under team control is a huge factor in the return -- as much or more so as sometimes the talent of the player.”

Cordero, who hails from the Dominican Republic, could get a chance to earn a starting or platoon job during Spring Training, but he has only 284 at-bats in the Majors. In 2020, the left-handed-hitting Cordero hit .211 with two homers in 38 at-bats. His most encouraging display in MLB thus far took place in ’18, when he belted seven homers in 139 at-bats for the Padres.

“He’s a very different type of player from Benny, but I think he can step right into that role,” Bloom said.

The 22-year-old Winckowski was selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 Draft, and he stayed with the Toronto organization until two weeks ago, when he was part of the package the Mets acquired for lefty Steven Matz. He is now Boston's No. 30 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

In 54 games (50 starts) in the Minors, Winckowski is 18-17 with a 3.35 ERA, 86 walks and 237 strikeouts in 263 innings. He has yet to pitch above Class A Advanced, but he likely would have pitched at Double-A if there had been a Minor League season in 2020.

“This is a big, physical kid who has a developing repertoire,” Bloom said. “He’s been primarily a fastball-slider, but he has a couple different fastballs. He’s had a changeup in the past during instructional league. This year he’s working on a splitter, which showed some promise. Velo-wise, he’s gotten it up there to the high 90s at times.”

Bloom said all three players to be named won’t be sent to the Red Sox until after the Minor League season starts.

While Bloom hasn’t made any marquee moves this offseason, he has steadily added depth to the club. Renfroe was the first addition of the offseason as a free agent and gives the club more pop from the right side of the plate. Kiké Hernández, who signed a two-year deal, brings over championship experience from the Dodgers and a lot of versatility on defense.

Adam Ottavino, acquired in a rare Red Sox-Yankees trade, gives the bullpen another reliable arm in the late innings. Righty starter Garrett Richards, who signed a one-year contract with a club option, has a power arm with upside if he can stay healthy.

“I think one of the best ways for us to help ourselves in 2021 this year was to be able to add to our depth, so we ended up making a lot of different acquisitions and spreading it around,” Bloom said. “Because there are a lot of different ways we could stand to get better.”

“In bringing those guys in, we’ve given ourselves ways to create upside for those guys to have impact beyond just 2021. ... And I think this move is very similar in that, hopefully once we have resolved all of the prospect components of the deal, we will have added a lot to the organization to help us down the road, and we’ve brought someone in with the upside, if it clicks, to be every bit of an everyday player for us in the here and now.”