10:10 p.m.: The Yankees announced the trade.
9:45 p.m.: The Royals will acquire three minor league players in return, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter).
9:38 p.m.: The Yankees are about to acquire an outfielder André Benintendi of the Royals, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link). New York has been looking for an outfield upgrade for the past few weeks, and they’ll fill the void by landing one of the best rental bats on the market.
Benintendi has been one of the game’s most obvious trade candidates in recent months. The Royals entered 2022 with competing plans but stumbled to a 16-32 finish until the end of May. That made Kansas City an obvious likely delay seller, and an impending free agent like Benintendi a strong candidate for a uniform change.
New York adds a contact-oriented bat to its outfield mix. Benintendi owns a .321/.389/.399 on the year, walking at a strong 10.1% clip while only hitting in 13.5% of his trips to the plate. He is only connected on three circuits, but Benintendi leads the majors with 91 singles and has collected 14 doubles. He didn’t look like the 15-20 homer bat he was in his early seasons with the Red Sox, but he made contact on 82.6 percent of his hits.
Benintendi’s production was bolstered by a career-high .368 batting average on live balls. that the Yankees are unlikely to anticipate his 2022 mark to stay that high. Even if his BABIP regresses closer to his career mark of .325, his plate discipline and bat control should support a solid on-base percentage.
These bat-to-ball skills stand in stark contrast to the player he is likely to move from the lineup, Joey Gallo. Last summer, New York’s biggest due date pickup, Gallo has struggled mightily since arriving in the Bronx. He’s a .160/.293/.371 hitter in 498 plate appearances as a Yankee, with a massive 38.4 percent clip on that streak. Among batters with more than 200 plate appearances this season, Gallo has the third-highest strikeout rate (38.1%) and the third-lowest contact rate on swings (62.2%).
The Yankees are now ready to deploy an outfield of Benintendi, candidate MVP Judge Aaron and Aaron Hicks – owner of a massive .333/.471/.593 line this month after a slow start to the season – most days. Giancarlo Stanton is the designated lead hitter, although he landed on the disabled list yesterday. New York has already started cutting Gallo’s playing time while working in the scorching heat Matt Charpentier in the corner outfield mix, and tonight’s acquisition is the strongest signal, but the Yankees are ready to knock Gallo out of the mix entirely. It stands to reason that they will try to find a taker for him in the trade before the deadline next Tuesday.