The Red Sox are open to moving outfielder Andrew Benintendi for the right package. According to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, the Marlins have made an attempt to acquire him. Based on the phrasing of Bowden’s report—“were one of the teams engaged in trade talks”—he sounds unsure of whether the negotiations are active or if they have reached an impasse. Regardless, this is an situation worth exploring on Fish Stripes.
The 26-year-old Benintendi is a .273/.353/.435 career hitter (108 wRC+) through parts of five MLB seasons. He was once touted by some evaluators as the very best prospect in baseball and was seemingly on his way to justifying that hype in 2018, performing at an All-Star-caliber level (4.4 fWAR/4.5 rWAR) and starting all but one game during Boston’s World Series run.
However, this is a buy-low opportunity for the Marlins. Benintendi struggled to generate any power late in the 2019 season. That issue carried over to 2020. Only 14 games into the abbreviated campaign, he suffered a strained right rib cage and hasn’t played since. There has also been a puzzling decline in Benintendi’s Sprint Speed every year of his career despite his relatively young age, debuting in the 89th percentile and ranking in the 43rd percentile (below league average) last season.
Benintendi is signed for $6.6 million in 2021 and will be arbitration eligible one final time in 2022. Bowden previously reported that the Red Sox are prioritizing pitchers and outfielders (presumably those with more long-term control than Benintendi) as pieces they’d want in return. Baseball Trade Values currently pegs the Cincinnati, Ohio native at $5.3M in surplus value, which seems low given his upside. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll go with his high-end BTV estimate of 6.4.
What follows are three trade proposals—the first is a deal that I believe the Marlins prefer, the second favors the Red Sox and the third is a reasonable compromise.
For reasons previously discussed here, Sierra becomes expendable if/when the Marlins add a veteran outfielder. His blazing speed can impact the game, as demonstrated early in the 2020 season, but the 24-year-old’s utter lack of power and frequent lower-body injuries are red flags, plus he has depleted his minor league options.
It is difficult to envision Guzman being a starter at the highest level—like he has been throughout his minor league career—unless he improves his command and gains more consistency with his changeup. The Marlins have their own bullpen concerns entering this season, though the (very, very small) sample size of him in a relief role last year was discouraging. They wouldn’t mind clearing him off the 40-man roster and signing a free agent with a solid track record instead.
Suriel quietly struck out 32.6% of batters faced with Short Season A Batavia during the 2019 season. Even so, he was signed out of the Dominican Republic under old Marlins ownership. I believe general manager Kim Ng would throw him into the deal as a third piece without hesitation.
The thought process behind this trade structure is the Red Sox are giving the Fish a refund on Misner’s 2019 draft signing bonus and covering half of Benintendi’s salary for 2021.
Marlins fans would understandably be upset by a decision that prioritizes finances over talent. However, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, hindering the revenue streams of a franchise that was already lagging behind the rest of MLB. After years of anticipation surrounding their new local television rights deal, we are fast approaching spring training with no clarity on the situation. This is a way to inch closer to postseason contention while leaving the flexibility to spend in other areas when circumstances change for the better.
These prospect departures would barely affect the Marlins during the upcoming season. Although Garrett debuted last September, he is slated to hone his craft at Double-A/Triple-A for a large chunk of 2021. Misner possesses the kind of tantalizing skill set that could help the Red Sox win this exchange in the long run.
It might have seemed preposterous two years ago that any club would covet Castano. Zero chance of him sustaining his rookie year 148 ERA+, but the big lefty nudges the Red Sox pitching staff towards respectability. With two minor leagues options remaining, he can be sent down if regression hits too hard.
Of course, the centerpiece here is Scott. If the 2018 first-rounder taps into more of his power during games, he’ll leap into the MLB Top 100 prospect conversation. For what it’s worth, Baseball Trade Values prefers Scott to Benintendi in a vacuum.
“One of the most divisive prospects” selected in the 2020 draft class, per Baseball America, there is no arguing the quality of Kyle Hurt’s pure stuff. It’s just...everything else.
Lots of moving parts here. Vázquez addresses another vulnerable position for Miami and his contract—$6.25M for 2021 and $7M club option for 2022—is even more favorable than Benintendi’s. But the Marlins aren’t surrendering Rogers’ six years of control, the whole careers of Misner and Encarnación plus a couple viable role players unless they are convinced that a postseason berth is attainable.
Stew on that idea for a minute, then go to BTV to vote yay or nay.