Red Sox notes: Overvaluing Andrew Benintendi, adding Marwin Gonzalez, and a weird OF fact

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John Tomase
·5 min read
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Tomase: Overvaluing Benintendi, adding Gonzalez, and a weird outfield fact originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Random Red Sox thoughts at the conclusion of what has turned out to be their busiest week of an otherwise sleepy offseason.

* What exactly did you expect to get for Andrew Benintendi?

A common refrain since the three-way trade that sent Benny Baseball to Kansas City on Wednesday has been, "I don't mind trading him, but I hate the return."

There are two problems with this point of view. For one, we don't even know the return yet! The Red Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and pitching prospect Josh Winckowski, as well as three players to be named later. There's a chance some of those unnamed prospects turn out to be good. We can't judge the deal at least until we know who they are. (And lest you think PTBNLs never amount to anything, keep in mind that David Ortiz was the one the Mariners sent to the Twins for Dave Hollins in 1996).

But two, tell me the last time someone who just hit .100 was traded for five players. Did fans expect that Benintendi would net them a third starter? He hasn't been particularly good since the first half of 2018. He's suddenly a strikeout machine, he has lost serious speed on the bases, and an attempt to hit for more power has left his swing broken.

It's entirely possible that we've already seen his best, in which case the Red Sox were smart to get out now, rather than risk that he continued to struggle in 2021 -- at which point they wouldn't be getting five players from anybody.

*Speaking of which...

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that the club considered trying to deal Benintendi at the trade deadline, but ultimately decided against it for a couple of reasons: 1. the uncertainty of making an in-season trade, and 2. the value of two full years of control before Benintendi reaches free agency.

"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.

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"If you're potentially talking about dealing with the deadline, there are a lot of things that can go into that beyond just how the player is performing, or if you're talking about next offseason, that may be impacting your return negatively, even if a player bounces back and performs. Those were things we weighed. All of these things, at the end of the day, you have to put these factors together and make a decision. As much as we believe in his ability to have a better season because of the way that teams value those years of control, that didn't necessarily mean we'd get a better return even if he had a better season."

In other words, there's no guarantee the Red Sox would exceed this return even if Benintendi returned to form.

*Trading Benintendi created the financial opening for the Red Sox to make the other move we've awaited all winter, which is signing jack-of-all-trades Marwin Gonzalez to a one-year deal.

In Gonzalez and second baseman Kike Hernandez, the Red Sox may just boast the two most versatile players in baseball. Hernandez has played everywhere except catcher, while Gonzalez is one of two players to appear in at least 130 games at first, second, third, short, and the outfield (former Rays utilityman Sean Rodriguez is the other).

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Now entering his 10th season, Gonzalez has produced one standout offensive season, but manager Alex Cora was there to see it with the Astros in 2017, when Gonzalez hit .303 with a .907 OPS and finished 19th in the MVP voting as Houston won it all.

The switch hitter should help bring some balance to the lineup wherever he plays, and he's got some pop, too.

*A couple of thoughts on versatility.

The days of running the same lineup out there every day are over. The Red Sox could end up shuffling multiple players through first, second, and both corner outfield spots. It's a small-market approach and it can be choked down during a rebuild, but it will be a much tougher sell in the long term, if that's indeed the plan.

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All of that versatility leaves the Red Sox in a unique spot with their outfield. Starting center fielder Alex Verdugo is the only everyday outfielder in a group that numbers as many as eight players -- Gonzalez, Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, Cordero, J.D. Martinez, Michael Chavis, Yairo Munoz. Obviously they won't all make the roster, but at least six of them will. That's a lot of mixing and matching for Cora.

*The Red Sox reached an agreement with left-hander Martin Perez on a one-year, $4.5 million contract on Jan. 16, but they still haven't announced the signing.

We should start taking bets. Will he be here for pitchers and catchers next week? Spring training games? Heck, the Red Sox won't need a fourth starter until April 5 vs. the Rays. Maybe they can sign him on the 4th.

*One last outfield note...

Bloom clearly tried to do Jackie Bradley Jr. a solid by repeatedly stating the team's interest in the Gold Glove center fielder, but let's be real -- if the Red Sox really wanted Bradley, they would've signed him a long time ago.

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