The problem with Andrew Benintendi isn’t really a problem with Andrew Benintendi.
It’s not even the contract, because while five years and $75 million seems like a lot for a guy coming off a five-homer season, he gives the White Sox some things they desperately need, and the White Sox are paying for ages 28 to 32. You should usually brace for adequate players to plunge into inadequacy once the White Sox sign them given Rick Hahn’s track record, but if Benintendi immediately became a liability, you would have license to express some surprise.
The problem with Andrew Benintendi mostly exists within the context of the White Sox.
Here, Benintendi’s penchant for a high BABIP without other defined strengths has a lot of company; too much, probably. Here, Benintendi’s recent history of left field exclusivity doesn’t help the lack of depth in the other two outfield spots.
Above all else, here, this slightly above-average profile somehow warrants the greatest free-agent outlay in franchise history.
Now, if you can isolate him from the way the White Sox have conducted business in the past, he looks like a guy who can help. They needed a left fielder who can nudge Eloy Jiménez into most-time DH duties without insulting him. They also needed a lefty who is significantly stronger against righties but playable against lefties, and Benintendi fits that bill. Bat him second when he has the handedness advantage and in the bottom third when he doesn’t, and there’s a point in playing him.
He doesn’t steal many bases, but he’s historically a plus baserunner, which the White Sox always need. Going through my Bill James Handbooks to look up his data, and while his days of stealing 10-plus bases are behind him, he’s not a station-to-station guy.
|Year||Bases gained||SB gained||Total|
The White Sox were -12 in baserunning bases gained as a team, and that deficit is erased simply by replacing Gavin Sheets (-5) with Benintendi.
These are all marginal advantages, but they help supplement that singles-heavy profile that looks redundant in this White Sox offense.
Except: The things Benintendi does well, he doesn’t do super-well, which makes it hard to know which parts of his game can carry the day if he runs into a little bit of misfortune, like his broken hamate from last September. Rick Hahn’s free agent history is littered with guys who relied on successful contact:
- 2022: AJ Pollock, Josh Harrison
- 2021: Adam Eaton
- 2019: Jon Jay
And going back to the first rebuild, Melky Cabrera was the White Sox’s similar-sized investment to shore up an outfield that also included Avisaíl García and Adam Eaton. Cabrera wielded a similar hit tool and the ability to knock 15 homers, but 15 also represented his max output, more or less, and he lost about all his steps in the field and on the basepaths, so his contributions didn’t have the ability to lift the team above failures elsewhere, especially when he opened his career with terrible contact luck.
If you can allow yourself to picture a world where the White Sox have deeper pockets than we thought, Benintendi opens more possibilities. The high floor of his game would theoretically allow the White Sox to pursue a high-risk-high-reward outfielder like Michael Conforto, with Oscar Colás ready to take over if Conforto looks done. It makes trading Liam Hendriks more palatable in one sense, because maybe that unlocks a solution at second base or outfield that allows the offense to project as truly above-average.
But in the scenario where Benintendi is the main addition, he’s basically a high-paid vote of confidence that incumbents with higher offensive ceilings will rebound and/or stay healthy. We’ve seen the White Sox stop one player short before during the Todd Frazier days, and now here comes Benintendi just in time to replace Grandal, not supplement him.
If everything else is staying the same, at least the White Sox have a more hospitable setting for Benintendi’s mid-velocity contact, and plenty of new faces who might have an idea of how to get the most out of him. Pedro Grifol overlapped with him the last two years in Kansas City, and so did a lot of his staff, per James Fegan:
The pre-existing White Sox connections to Benintendi are seemingly limitless. Most immediately, new manager Pedro Grifol was Benintendi’s bench coach for the bulk of the past two seasons in Kansas City, during which time new field coordinator Mike Tosar and new third base coach Eddie Rodríguez were also part of the Royals organization. White Sox hitting coordinator Andy Barkett was the assistant hitting coach for the Red Sox in 2018 and 2019 – the former of which being when Benintendi had a career year and Boston won the World Series – and has worked with the left fielder extensively in the past.
Beyond that, the White Sox have admired Benintendi since before he was drafted one spot ahead of their pick in 2015, and wanted him to be part of the four-player prospect haul they received from the Red Sox in exchange for Chris Sale after the 2016 season. The White Sox have been ready and willing to believe in Benintendi for a minute now.
The $15 million AAV is more important than the five years part, because the White Sox roster could transform considerably over following two winters, creating a spectrum where Benintendi is an appropriately paid secondary player on a contender, or a financial obligation on a payroll with few of them. It’d take a strange confluence of factors for Benintendi to become a true albatross, which might be the primary reason why the Sox were comfortable nudging their franchise-record bar ever so slightly higher.
You can watch Josh, BeefLoaf and I discuss the Benintendi signing on an emergency podcast/livestream from Thursday night. If you could subscribe to the Sox Machine YouTube channel, it’d be greatly appreciated.
It is what it is. I’m not going to complain and I’m not going to celebrate.
All of my emotions are muted at this point.
“not going to complain or celebrate”. True. No reason to do either. Compared to the 2022 season, he replaces Abreu. Better defense, worse offense. From a WAR perspective it is very unlikely that Benni exceeds or even replaces Jose, that’s just reality.
At best the roster is just as good or bad as last season, banking all their hopes on improvement from players within. Adding a slightly above average player… in the 3 years since 2020 with a myriad of high quality players changing teams via free agency, this is the best they’ve done.
By Fangraphs’ estimate, the Sox last year would have gained 2.4 WAR purely in defensive value by replacing Abreu with Benintendi (Vaughn would play first instead of Jose). Offensively, considering both offense and base running, Jose was 1.1 WAR better than Benintendi. Net result is the Sox would have been 1.3 WAR better last year with B instead of A.
I’m definitely not saying Benintendi is a better or more valuable player than Abreu. That would be silly. But it’s just reality that if the Sox get rid of either Abreu or Vaughn last year, and replace them with an average corner outfielder, they would have been better off. It just goes to show how badly Hahn constructed the roster.
I don’t disagree that the signing made sense, and that the roster is now more sensible in a way. It’s just hard to get excited about a slightly above average player. It certainly doesn’t make up for them doing nothing for 3 years.
We’ll see what else they have in store. I can hardly wait, lol! Maybe they will surprise, who knows. I really want Colas to get a shot in RF rather than sign someone coming off bad production and health issues like Conforto. Colas might wind up being the better player, who knows, and they don’t have to pay him. I really think he’s got a decent chance to be adequate right away basically. He will be 25 during the season, so he isn’t super young. He can field, which is already a year over year improvement. They really need to give him a shot which I hope they are planning on, personally. I don’t think he’ll suck any worse than Sheets.
I disagree, if Colas fails/not ready you have nothing. If you have injuries to Robert or Benintendi you have nothing. If Conforto fails or you have injuries you can move Colas in. There’s way too much nothing in a Colas only approach and little real upside.
How can you suggest that Colas, having an OPS over .900 at AA and AAA last year, has no upside when he hasn’t played a game yet? I am usually the one who is pessimistic. I’ll take giving Colas a shot over a guy who had a WAR under 1 the last time he played, which was 2 years ago. If Conforto was awful, they would be likely to stick with him too long because they’ve invested in him – AND Colas might have been the better player from the get go.
They trotted Sheets out there 125 games last year with a negative WAR, why wouldn’t they take a chance on a guy who can at least field his position and projects to be a much better hitter?
Agree. I also think they might need a 4th OF who has played CF recently. There, maybe someone like Adam Duvall is the best remaining FA (although definitely a downgrade from Conforto overall, if Benintendi were injured or something). And maybe if they went Duvall instead of Conforto, they’d have more to spend on other areas like 2B or C.
Arizona is making outfielders available. I like Alek Thomas, although the White Sox history with his father could be a problem.
I am very happy with Colas being the starting RF. The outfield defense will be very much improved. But yes they need a 4th OF, and surprisingly, he needs to be right-handed. Duvall is probably the best of the lot.
Brandon Drury is the best FA 2B available at the Sox price. Segura is probably too expensive. But I would rather see a trade with the Cardinals or Dodgers for a young 2B. It would likely cost Liam, put bullpen is a position where the Sox actually have some depth. Then get Fulmer, Chafin or Ottavino to replace Liam with Graveman or Lopez sliding to closer. And hopefully by mid-season we get Crochet back.
Yeah, Cardinals or Dodgers LH2B would be great. There also could be something like this, which seems to have medium interest from Sox/Jays fans:
I think Jansen/Biggio will end up combined at a little over $6M in arbitration, so not bad.
By the way, it looks like Dan O’Dowd has now convinced most Yankees fans that they should be getting something more than Hendriks for Gleyber Torres.
You realize teams are allowed to have depth right? Colas doesn’t die if a right fielder is signed
Yuuuuup. Did some fans hit their heads and forget last year? Hell, the last two years? The Sox could sign two more OFs above Colas on the depth chart and there’s still a fair chance Colas would be needed in some capacity before the end of May.
Where did I say Colas had no upside? I said: “There’s way too much nothing in a Colas only approach and little real upside.” which is about going with Colas only as plan A and no plan B which has little upside
Maybe trotting Sheets out for 125 games last year should have been taken as an object lesson and not something to keep doing with the hopes it pans out.
Hey, he’d be great if all games were home games against RHP, and he didn’t have to play a defensive position.
Sheets is fine at first base.
If you can’t celebrate this signing, you’ll never celebrate a move the White Sox make. Which, hey, I won’t blame you for. But they aren’t even going to swim in the big boy’s pool. And if you start with that assumption, this is about as good as they could do. So, I’ll celebrate it!
The other plus is that, while he wouldn’t be a plan A in CF, he can do okay as a fill in there and won’t hurt you too much.
“All of my emotions are muted at this point.”
I think Roman sells something to help with that.
He’s an upgrade we really needed in LF probably the best alternative option to fill that hole. A one or two year deal for Conforto or Brantley to bridge to Colás would be good. Anybody know why Segura isn’t linked to any team in FA rumors?
Would it shock anyone if a Harrison reunion was their answer to 2b? I would not think out of the question, he wasn’t awful, and is better than Leury. Not what I would wish for but hey, this is the sox.
But he was awful, he had a nice 3 week run in June/July and a good September but he should’ve been DFA’d in early June before any of that happened.
He’s the last guy I would want, totally agree. I would rather see Sosa get a shot than him. I hope they do not wind up giving him consideration, but could see it.
I would be shocked,
I’d bring Elvis back first. I thought I read he was open to 2B. Hitting is weak, though. Why are no teams in on Segura? Plus defense, average to above average hitter. What’s wrong with him that no team seems to want him?
Brantley is pretty much a DH hitter at this point. We have that covered.
The best defensive FA OFs are gone. Brantley would be an upgrade in RF and in the line up, and a short term contract so Colas isn’t blocked. Conforto is also an upgrade and Boras says they are looking for a one-two year contract, so, again, Colas wouldn’t be blocked. The other option is a trade. I like Lopez for Varsho, but Varsho is young so Colas gets blocked. Then trade Colas? Or keep in AAA for backup?
I like Conforto as a player, but the guy was so messed up physically that he had to sit out an entire season. So while I know some people on here like to say that Colas is unproven, it’s hard for me to think handing the keys in RF to a healthy Colas is a bigger risk than giving them to someone like Conforto who hasn’t played baseball since 2021.
At the time of the Sale trade, Benintendi was Baseball America’s #1 prospect so wanting him wasn’t a weird White Sox thing. His mlb career hasn’t included the power that he showed as a prospect.
“It’d take a strange confluence of factors for Benintendi to become a true albatross”
This is so true, even a Jason Heyward type run is no comp.
Unlikely to totally suck, with no chance of being great either. Consistent with a goal of mediocrity.
High floor, low ceiling.
You can’t have a team of them but a few sprinkled through a lineup/payroll is fine. Our bigger issue is High Ceiling, Low Availability. These are killing us.
Like others, I am waiting to see what happens next. If this is it, I’m picking my pitchfork back up.
I anticipate a deal for a second baseman, probably in exchange for one or more of our relief pitchers. The Sox have more relief pitchers than spots in the bullpen, and teams are valuing relief pitching fairly highly. Depending on the second base return, it also could reduce payroll
Agree. At least I certainly hope they get a LH2B and trade from the bullpen. I’d also be OK with a minor league guy or two for Tony Kemp just as a single-year stop gap, and then trade from the BP for a quality 4th OF and/or better backup at C.
Besides St Louis, I like Ezequiel Duran and Bubba Thompson from Texas. Duran doesn’t have a spot atm and Thompson might not be ready for fulltime yet so they may be available, I’d be ecstatic with them both. It would take more than Hendricks but I’d consider it for sure. Maybe include Martin or even Martin and Graverman and then sign Dan Duffy for our 6th?
A few our “core guys” have high ceiling-no ladder.
I’m OK with this signing. Benintendi strikes me like a player wiith a very solid floor even if his production falters. He will earn his money probably for his entire contract. Considering who Benintendi is replacing in the outfield, and combining that with his high floor, we’re talking about a considerable positive WAR gain that is very likely be worth much more than the 15M AVV he is getting.
Being a LH hitter, I think he will age well this contract. The White Sox were a team that faced the fewest LHP in 2022. Andrew provides balance which will benefit others. Some ‘intangible’ there.
I also think Benintendi might have one or two 4 WAR season left. I think this will be a good contract. Might not be exciting but I rather have Benintendi than Gallo or Kepler.
I have been eyeing his 2018 production with faint hope. I know he’s unlikely to suddenly revert to that form, but he has at least showed it before, and he’s still in prime age range.
I think this is a great first step to building a better team in 23. If we know ss-3b-c-cf are the constants, it comes down to how the others change. Going from Sheets – Vaughn – Jimenez – Abreu – Harrison as dh-rf-Lf-1b-2b to Jimenez – ? – Benintendi – Vaughn – ?. The latter looks much better. Still solid with the bat and light years better with defense and athleticism. Even if it’s all in house and we solve it with Colas and Romy. It’s not ground breaking but it at least shows were not completely stupid and we know 5 first baseman won’t work. I’d love Conforto and Segura/Andrus now. Even Brantley or Peralta.
The Sox haven’t really made a huge splash but I really like the 3 moves they’ve made plus the manager switch.
My enthusiasm for Benintendi will be determined by what else happens this winter.
Ooh baby, we’ve got a whole CREW of anti-vaxxers now! Maybe Benintendi and Clevinger can share a hotel room with Cease and Graveman, like a chicken pox party.
We had a guy who dismissed the existence of dinosaurs the last time the sox won a series.
After watching the half assery of 2022, I don’t care what their personal beliefs are. Play hard. That’s all I care about.
This is my position as well.
Ordinarily I take this stance since it’s safe to assume that virtually everyone in professional sports has beliefs different than mine. But I draw the line at anti-vaxxers. They’re scum. Everett denying dinosaurs is funny and ultimately inconsequential. This is not.
I’d forgotten about Benintendi being unvaccinated. From reporting last year, it sounds like he may have changed his mind. Hopefully that’s the case.
In the words of Jay Cutler, “Don’t care.”
This is particularly funny since these days the youths get a chickenpox vaccine. These kids don’t know how easy they have it! Back in my my day…
Like everyone’s saying here, in a vacuum, it’s a solid move. Right player, right price. Connected to Sox culture and recent history, there’s a lot of ways to look at this that aren’t encouraging.
What’s wild is, really, Hahn is just two reasonable moves away from having a big boy roster.
Trade Hendriks for a 2B, whether it’s to LA, STL, even Toronto–someone will take Hendriks, and, in my opinion, I think his value is internally replaceable.
With that money saved, you sign Conforto.
That keeps you at ~$190 million, and you have a lineup of:
With a bench of:
Combined with the pitching staff, you have a solid roster. It’s filled with actual major leaguers–no one here was pulled out of a dumpster or is playing out of position.
What will ACTUALLY happen, though, is Hahn’s pride won’t allow him to trade one of his precious bullpen arms, he’ll have Sheets/Colas holding down right, and 2B will continue to be a black hole.
And that, in the words of Master Yoda, is why you fail.
Signing Benintendi shows more ambition than I expected and it also is one that’s NOT Mazara-like (the Sox wish-casting a projection of performance when history shows otherwise). It is a nice signing in terms of age and expected minimum performance. It also is a little sad in that this is as big as the Sox are willing to play when the Padres…play so much bigger.
I’ll be really interested in seeing if the Sox now dump salary (eg Liam for prospects or Gio for a prospect or both). Lots of people have posted that this signing is OK as long as it is paired with another…I think it’s way more likely the Sox will subtract to get payroll back down…but we’ll see.
At least they now have 2 major league outfielders.
We all knew that the Sox weren’t going to do much in FA signings because Hahn said so, so I’m happy with this signing. We all knew it wouldn’t be one of the big boys and looking at how much they made I’m fine with that too. I get it though. Who wouldn’t love to see Judge on the Sox but that’s just a fantasy.
Having Benintendi in LF, Robert in CF and probably Colas in right is a huge jump up from last season. Moving Vaughn from OF to 1B should work out fine and having Sheets as his backup or DH is good too. And having Jimenez only as DH is also a good thing.
The obvious weak spots are 2B and catcher, depending on Grandal’s health. I’m not sold on Moncada but he is what he is. And maybe he comes through.
And health with this team is always a concern. 1 or 2 trades now and I’m ready for spring training which is only about 2 months away!
From what I remember reading, it seems like Benintendi has tried to be a different type of player from year to year. Hopefully now he has a better idea of who he is on the field. As Jim said, the financial commitment here in todays landscape is minimal, so he really doesn’t have to be amazing to make this a solid signing. I’m hoping he settles in and focuses on his strengths, particularly getting on base. If his 2023 OBP is anything close to his 2022, I’ll be ecstatic. That alone would be an immense boost to this team.
Trade Graveman and Leury to the Mets for Guillorme and McCann and cash to cover some of McCanns contract. Match him back up with Giolito. Better backup than Zavala. Platoon Guillorme at 2nd base.
I’m jumping on the get Conforto bandwagon.
1/8 base, with $ for games played and a buyout on a ’23 option, taking it to a potential $15mil.
If that gets it done, keep Hendrix and stick with internal options at 2B.
Scenario #1- Sign Conforto ad he flops. Fine! Didn’t cost much and we have Colas!
Scenario #2- Sign Conforto and he rakes. Wait, Rick made a good FA signing!? + we have Colas in case of injury, He’s the frontrunner for RF in ’23 and can ease him into the bigs.
Scenario #4- No Conforto and Colas flops. Leury Garcia and Gavin Sheets in RF.
Scenario # 5 No Conforto and Colas rakes- Great! Please nobody get hurt. I don’t want Leury Garcia or Gavin Sheets in RF.
Scenario #3 is not to be discussed.
Can I interest you in Billy Hamilton?
Is this Hahn’s way of telling us where we can put our Conforto talk…
Feels more like a potential Engel replacement than anyone that would prevent another OF acquisition.
And I don’t care what anybody says, Hamilton is super fun to watch when he doesn’t have a bat in his hand. Defensive replacement/pinch runner…Billy Hamilton is my guy.
Maybe Hamilton can play 2B.
Probably could. He started as a shortstop.
On a minor league deal? Why, yes you can!
That was scenario #3.
Post season is locked now. I really like Bham
Swanson to the Flubs, 7 years $177 mil.
Oh hum just another 9 figure deal given by the Cubs. Can’t wait until we get our first.
That’s like the 7th contract the Cubs have given starting with Lester bigger than any in Sox history I do believe. I contend that in 2-3 years unless the Sox pony up for somebody better than Benintendi, the Cubs will wind up the best baseball team in Chicago.
As much criticism as they’ve been given, at least the Cubs ownership will actually spend and get high quality star players. Good for them. They have a long way to go toward being relevant but at least their ownership acts in some level of good faith and maintains some integrity with their fans. Still, I just can’t root for them. But damn I wish their ownership bought the Sox instead of the Cubs.
The good news is that the Twins struck out on all of the elite free agent shortstops.
Will be interesting to see how good Swanson really is. Last season was by far his best, but posted a higher WAR than any Tim has posted in his career. A gold glove SS, very solid get and at least they’re actually trying.
I don’t care about the Twins all that much, and am not content if winning the Central another time or two is all that the Sox accomplish during these few years, which is all they are giving themselves much chance to do, realistically.
That actually encourages me that TA still might have a monster year or two in him. They both came into the league the same year, and Tim had higher fWAR than Swanson every one of the first 6 years, until Swanson broke out with a huge year last year. Tim’s only a year older. Not too late by a long shot.
I think TA’s liable to have a really huge contract year. I think he might be a little resentful now of making relative peanuts from the deal he signed while playing like a star.
I expect a big year for Timmy, his personal expenses have gone up. Whatever it takes …
I know some Flub fans that would disagree. Rickett’s has taken a ton of heat from fans and media for allowing the team to basically fall apart.
This coming season will spell out a ton about the Sox though. They’re either going to be good or maybe a .500 or less team. If they’re not good then JR, if he truly gives a damn, will shit can Hahn. I’d say Williams too but I have no idea what his role is other than collecting paychecks.
Cub ownership might not be among the best but they sure are not among the worst like we’ve got. In the last 7 years the Cubs were never lower than 15th in payroll, and were in the top 10 five of those years, top 5 in three. Sox have been higher than 15th only once, last year.
Cubs were in the NCLS 3 straight years including when they won the WS, and in the playoffs 5 out of 6 years. Cub fans have nothing to complain about with this ownership, or the results they’ve gotten.
I don’t think JR gives a rats ass about what the Flubs do and frankly, neither do I. All that money they spent got them 1 World Series. Yeah, they won more than the Sox did during the season but it still only got them 1 championship.
If it wasn’t for JR’s missteps with La Russa who knows? No way will the Sox or most teams compete with the Yanks, Dodgers, Astros or Phillies of the world.
Sorry, I just can’t/won’t ever say anything good about the north siders. Ever.
Baseball needs a hard cap but the greed of owners and players will prevent that.
They got a WS and 2 other NLCS appearances. The Sox might not even win a playoff series before TA and half their team is gone. I will never root for the cubs but I can be objective enough to acknowledge that they have a superior ownership that has given them real success because they spent the money, while the Sox have and will not.
Philadelphia is not a bigger market than Chicago. They drew only like 200K more fans than the Sox last year, certainly that gap would have been close to zero if the Sox had a better team. The Sox could spend closer to what the Phillies do, and sign high quality players like they do, but choose not to. As far as the greed of owners, there is nobody who personifies that more than cheap ass Sox ownership.
If you wouldn’t be happy with a 2015-20 type of run the Cubs had then your expectations are unreasonably high.
I think a run like the 2015-2020 Cubs is so far outside our experience as Sox fans that we can’t value it appropriately.
We’re conditioned to think 2005-08 was some sort of golden age.
For Sox fans, it pretty much was. I had not realized that from 2006-2008 the Sox were actually top 5 in payroll for 3 straight years. We’ll never see that again. We might never see them in the top 5 even once.
JD Martinez to the Dodgers, at the speed things are going no one will be left in January.
What about Jurikson Profar as a 2B option? Is he good, or was 2022 just an anomoly?
He’s not really a 2B any more. He hasn’t played 2B more than part-time since 2019, and the defensive metrics think he was absolutely horrendous defensively there.
Hmm… What about as Colas insurance?
Meh. You could. But he’s got a lot more experience in LF than RF and he can’t really cover center. I don’t see much reason to like him better than Payton as insurance.
I’d take Profar over just rolling with Colas understanding that if Colas is lighting up AAA then it isn’t difficult to bench Profar.
easy fix… resign andrus to play short and move anderson to second. cost is minimal. finally sign turner from LA for third and trade moncada for a front line pitcher.
Andrus and Turner have a combined age of 73… a little too antique for my tastes
Lucky for you, Turner is no longer an option.
Please identify the team that will give you a front line pitcher for Moncada, post-2022 season.
A more than competent professional outfielder to play left field is an exciting concept. The fact that he’s a left-handed, decent on-base guy… very nice. Given the other outfield moves (Hamilton, Reyes, Payton) it looks like Colas in RF with plan B being Hamilton in center and Roberts in right. Another outfield add would be beyond shocking. Trading a reliever and spare parts for a competent second baseman seems like the next move.