Sports Q

Sports Q: Should the Red Sox trade Andrew Benintendi?

Benintendi has become as big of an enigma as there is in Major League Baseball.

Andrew Benintendi
Andrew Benintendi walks back to the dugout after grounding into a double play during an Aug. 8 game against the Blue Jays. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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Should the Red Sox trade Andrew Benintendi? Feels like they’d be selling low somewhat, but he hasn’t been above average for almost two seasons now. – Jim B.

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You know, my instinct is to say no, because we’ve seen him have high-level success in the major leagues and essentially live up to his billing as the No. 7 pick in the 2016 draft. I don’t like selling low, as you put it – I’m still mad the Red Sox let Ellis Burks walk after a rough 1992 season – but I have to admit, I just don’t know what Benintendi is right now. He’s become as big of an enigma as there is in Major League Baseball.

Two years ago, he was a cornerstone player on the best team the Red Sox have ever had, a 24-year-old who hit 41 doubles, 16 homers, scored 103 runs, and played a steady left field. He also had a pedigree and swing – a combination of Yaz’s and Fred Lynn’s – that suggested All-Star feats were in his future. If you’d told me in October 2018 that Benintendi would make a half-dozen All-Star teams, I would have believed you.

But now? I don’t know what he is as a player at this moment, let alone what he will be going forward. He was batting .103 this season before going on the disabled list August 12 with a rib injury. Two years ago, he could have hit .103 while batting righthanded and wearing an eye patch. He’s stuck out 17 times in 52 plate appearances. He’s certainly much better than he has been during this miserable season … but how much better?

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He’s been trending the wrong way for a little while now. He was surprisingly mediocre last year, hitting just 13 home runs in a season in which just about everyone hit 13 home runs or more. His adjusted OPS was 100, meaning he was exactly the average MLB ballplayer. Alarmingly, he struck out 140 times after whiffing 106 times in ’18 in 46 more plate appearances.

It’s hard to pinpoint any specific thing that has gone wrong. He came in a little more musclebound last year, but it wasn’t an egregious weight gain. His swing still looks great, even if it connects less than ever. I just don’t know what to make of him. Do you? Do the Red Sox?

He’s signed for $6.6 million next years and isn’t a free agent until 2023, so he should be a decent value if he can get back to his 2017-18 production. Trading him of course depends on what the return would be, but in the spirit of actually answering the question, I can’t help but it would be premature to trade him.

Yeah, I’d keep him, all things being equal. But when (or if) he returns this year, it would be reassuring to see some signs of the player he used to be and ought to be again. It’s probably even necessary if he wants to remain with the Red Sox for the long haul.

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What does everyone else think? Should the Red Sox trade Andrew Benintendi? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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