The 2022 MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching and within the next couple of weeks, there could be multiple members of the Kansas City Royals who join new teams as a result. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi is arguably the top name on that list, and the All-Star's trade market has been a hot topic of discussion in recent days.
Before Kansas City's trip north of the border to square off against the Toronto Blue Jays, many believed it was a near-lock that Benintendi would eventually be traded. Then, a whopping 10 players went on the restricted list due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Benintendi was one of them, raising legitimate questions about his likelihood to be traded to an American League East club and subsequently causing the New York Yankees to lighten up in their pursuit of him.*
*Editor's note: Shortly after the publishing of this article, a Feinsand report indicated that the Yankees are back in on Benintendi and have emerged as "serious contenders" for him.
After rumblings about whether or not he'd get the vaccine for the chance to play on a playoff contender were put on the back burner, the outlook of the Benintendi market took a positive turn on Friday afternoon. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB Network, a variety of teams are expressing interest in making a move for the recently-turned 28-year-old. The AL East is even back in play:
It appears that Andrew Benintendi’s vaccination status is not having an impact on his trade market. According to sources, multiple teams - including some in the AL East - are interested in acquiring the All-Star outfielder from the Royals.
- Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) on Friday, July 22, 2022 at 12:21 p.m. CST
This is great news for the Royals, as moving Benintendi makes all the sense in the world. He'll be a free agent this offseason, and reports centered around his camp and Kansas City discussing a possible contract extension have been virtually nonexistent. Currently enjoying one of the best years of his career, Benintendi is likely to price himself out of the Royals' range in the winter. Trading him now secures at least some return rather than letting him go for nothing, and the fact that several teams are interested makes things even better.
In 88 games entering Saturday's play, Benintendi is posting career-bests in batting average (.319), OBP (.389), K% (13.9) and wRC+ (128). He's also coming off a Gold Glove-winning campaign in left field and is capable of holding down that spot in any big-league ballpark. The only downside with acquiring Benintendi is that he isn't producing from a power standpoint. In addition to hitting just three home runs all year, his .083 ISO is the lowest full-season figure he's had in his career by a wide margin. With that said, he is on pace for nearly the same amount of doubles this year as he had in 2021.
A return for Benintendi is far from likely to include a top-100 prospect, although the addition of a relief pitcher such as Scott Barlow or Josh Staumont could potentially change that. Kansas City has plenty of assets to trade this year, as its rebuild appears to be continuing despite heading into the 2022 campaign with high expectations. Benintendi can still be a part of that rebuild in some way, shape or form, but it will probably be by way of trade. If Feinsand's report is any indication, those odds aren't nearly as bad as some may think.