The White Sox have agreed to a five-year contract with free-agent outfielder Andrew Benintendi, stories ESPN’s Jesse Rogers (via Twitter). Benintendi, a consumer of Excel Sports activities Administration, will likely be assured $75MM on the contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Benintendi, 28, was the No. 7 general decide within the 2015 draft by the Pink Sox and ranked as the game’s No. 1 prospect at Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com previous to his massive league debut. The runner as much as Aaron Choose for American League Rookie of the 12 months honors in 2017, he turned in an excellent .290/.366/.465 batting line with 18 house runs and 21 steals a 12 months later in 2018, seemingly setting the stage for him to interrupt out into full blown stardom.
That by no means actually transpired, nonetheless. 4 full seasons have passed by since that point, and Benintendi has as a substitute settled in as a stable common in left discipline however not the perennial All-Star he early in his massive league tenure. He’ll sometimes hit for common, draw loads of walks and play good protection — Benintendi received a Gold Glove in 2021 — however he’s by no means settled in as a constant energy risk. Benintendi’s 20 house runs in 2017 nonetheless stand as his profession excessive, and he hit simply 5 house runs in 521 plate appearances between the Royals and Yankees in 2022 earlier than a fractured hamate in his wrist ended his season.
Over the previous 4 seasons, Benintendi has posted a mixed .276/.345/.417 batting line with 35 house runs and 27 steals. He’s at all times been powerful to strike out, however by no means extra so than in 2022, when he fanned in simply 14.8% of his plate appearances. It’s potential Benintendi took a extra conservative, contact-oriented method that resulted each in him hitting fewer house runs but additionally placing the ball in play with extra frequency. Regardless, the shortage of punchouts probably appealed to a White Sox membership that posted the seventh-lowest strikeout charge in all of baseball final 12 months and watched because the Guardians received the AL Central with by far the sport’s lowest strikeout charge.
A nook outfielder and left-handed bat to assist steadiness out a closely right-handed membership have been each clear wants for the South Siders, and Benintendi can verify each packing containers. He’ll hit at or close to the highest of the lineup, with Eloy Jimenez like sliding right into a main DH function now that Benintendi is on board. The Sox additionally bid farewell to stalwart first baseman Jose Abreu this offseason, which cleared the best way for Andrew Vaughn to maneuver from proper discipline, the place he ranked as certainly one of MLB’s worst defenders at any place, to his pure place of first base.
Eradicating Vaughn and Jimenez from common outfield work would’ve improved the outfield protection whatever the replacements, however plugging Benintendi into the combination supplies a considerable improve. In 5775 profession innings in left discipline, he’s been credited with 32 Defensive Runs Saved. It’s notable that Statcast’s Outs Above Common feels fairly in a different way, pegging Benintendi at -15 in that very same time, though that’s skewed by one -10 season in 2019 (a season that DRS agrees was under common from a defensive standpoint). Benintendi and heart fielder Luis Robert give the Sox a pair of above-average defenders within the outfield, though if the plan for proper discipline is to make use of Gavin Sheets as a bridge to prospect Oscar Colas, a minimum of one of many three outfield spots will nonetheless have the potential to be a defensive legal responsibility.
The White Sox opened the 2022 season with a membership file $193MM payroll, and the addition of Benintendi figures to place them proper again into that vary once more. Benintendi additionally pushes Chicago’s luxury-tax ledger a bit north of $205MM, per Roster Useful resource, although that’s nonetheless $28MM from the $233MM first tier of penalization. The Sox may nonetheless use assist at second base and will stand to deepen their bench, so it’s probably that subsequent strikes will push the crew to a franchise-record payroll for a second season (barring a commerce that sheds a present contract).
Considerably remarkably, the $75MM assure offers Benintendi the biggest contract in White Sox franchise historical past, narrowly topping Yasmani Grandal, who’d held the file at $73MM. The ChiSox have supplied greater than this in some high-profile free agent pursuits lately, most notably providing greater than $200MM to Manny Machado and greater than $100MM to Zack Wheeler. Each gamers, after all, in the end signed elsewhere.