Skip to main content

Padres Prospects Royals Should Target in Andrew Benintendi Trade

If recent reports are indeed true, who should the Royals ask for in return for Benintendi?

The Kansas City Royals' recent struggles have been blatant. The team has flirted with the league's worst record for quite a while now, with questionable front office decisions adding fuel to the fire. All in all, the 2022 season is likely another losing one for the Royals.

With a bleak season outlook and many holes on the roster, Kansas City will likely be sellers at the MLB trade deadline. The 2022 deadline falls on Tuesday, August 2 at 5:00 p.m. CST. This leaves quite a bit of time before teams have to make their final moves.

Jun 11, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) makes a diving catch against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably Kansas City's biggest trade piece is outfielder Andrew Benintendi. The 2021 Gold Glove winner boasts a batting average above .300 and is one of the more productive hitters in baseball. The 27-year-old is a free agent after this year, and he'll likely command a large contract. That contract may be too rich for Kansas City, making him expendable. 

Many contenders could use Benintendi's services, and one is already reaching out for a trade. James Clark of the East Village Times reported that the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals "are in exploratory talks" for Benintendi. The exact timeline is unclear, but it is a step forward in the MLB trade season nonetheless.

The Padres and Royals are no strangers when it comes to trades. Kansas City recently sent pitchers Tim Hill and Trevor Rosenthal to San Diego in separate trades. The two organizations' familiarity may help speed talks along or help ensure a more fair return for both. Kansas City's competitive timeline continues to be delayed, while San Diego's is right now. 

The Royals could do with several prospects in return, or one featured piece. While a possible reunion with first baseman Eric Hosmer is not outside the realm of possibility, Kansas City should prioritize acquiring prospects. If the club were to target a package of prospects, who could be some names discussed?

OF Robert Hassell III

Mar 15, 2022; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres outfielder Robert Hassell during spring training workouts at the San Diego Padres Spring Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Top 100 rank: 30th
Padres Top 30 Prospects rank: 2nd
MLB Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55

San Diego selected Hassell, a 20-year-old lefty, eighth overall in the 2020 MLB Draft. He has steadily climbed the prospect rankings then, as both A-levels of baseball provide little challenge. Entering Monday's play, he is slashing .310/.377/.474 for the Padres' High-A affiliate Fort Wayne TinCaps. His line, plus his 31 RBI, all lead the team by good margins.

While Hassell is still growing, his speed and instincts project him as an everyday center fielder. With that said, he could still be a corner outfielder with plus arm strength. There are few glaring issues with Hassell's game, making him an enticing prospect.

Hassell could be acquired for Benintendi plus a Kansas City bullpen arm if the Padres are willing to deal. It will take a good offer from Kansas City to pry Hassell away, though, and for good reason. 

OF James Wood

Mar 15, 2022; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres outfielder James Wood during spring training workouts at the San Diego Padres Spring Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Top 100 Rank: N/A
Padres Top 30 Prospects Rank: 4th
MLB Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Staying with the outfielders, Kansas City could target a high-ceiling prospect in James Wood. Only 19 years old, Wood was San Diego's second-round selection in the 2021 draft. The Padres gave Wood a huge $2.6 million bonus, showing how confident the organization is in Wood's potential.

Wood already has an imposing stature, standing 6'7" and weighing 240 pounds. He can certainly grow more into that frame as he matures. That stature fits Wood's plus power. He has not sacrificed production for that power, however, with an MiLB career line of .346/.464/.544. 

Unlike Hassell, Wood is more pigeon-holed into the right field. He has a very strong arm but needs better accuracy and first-step reaction. Wood has solid speed, so more refinement on defense will make him a fine prospect. Wood-for-Benintendi would not be a surprising package, with some sweeteners added by both teams. Wood is not nearly as MLB-ready as Hassell, but he could be better at the plate.

2B Max Ferguson

Tennessee's Max Ferguson (2) stops a ground ball in the NCAA baseball regional final between Tennessee and Liberty on Sunday, June 6, 2021 in Knoxville, Tenn. Sp Ut Base

MLB Top 100 Rank: N/A
Padres Top 30 Prospects Rank: 15th
MLB Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 40

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Going from headline players like Hassell and Wood to here, infielder Max Ferguson would likely be a trade sweetener. Ferguson was a Padres fifth-round selection in 2021, coming out of Tennessee. He's a toolsy infielder, which the Royals frequently like.

Ferguson is far from a power hitter. He does seem to find the gaps and draw walks, though, getting on base at a .383 clip. Overall, Ferguson still has work to do at the plate but has a decent foundation. His calling card is his defensive versatility, with experience at both second base and shortstop. He even has some outfield potential. Royals prospects such as Nate Eaton and Michael Massey have succeeded with this profile. 

Again, Ferguson is far from a high-level prospect. He would be one of many prospects traded for Benintendi if the Padres want to make a deal.

RHP Kevin Kopps

Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps (45) and catcher Casey Opitz (12) celebrate after Arkansas 3-20 in the Tennessee and Arkansas NCAA baseball game in Knoxville, Tenn. on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Kns Vols Arkansas Basebal

MLB Top 100 Rank: N/A
Padres Top 30 Prospects Rank: 14th
MLB Scouting grades: Fastball: 45 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 40 | Cutter: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 40

The Royals love their bullpen arms and if they want another one back, a great option is Kevin Kopps.

Kopps is not a young prospect, as he's already 25 despite being drafted just last year. He bolstered his prospect status immediately, sporting a 0.61 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in his debut minor league season. Kopps has had some rough outings for the Double-AA San Antonio Missions in 2022, but the Royals could pounce on his relatively low stock.

Kopps' plus cutter regularly sits batters down, and he has good control of his other pitches. His fastball is far from overpowering, but his changeup and curveball round out a competent pitching arsenal. Kansas City likes these buy-low, sell-high relief pitchers. Kopps fits this mold, and could contribute in Kansas City as soon as next year. 

LHP Robert Gasser

MLB Top 100 Rank: N/A
Padres Top 30 Prospects Rank: 8th
MLB Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

As the most intriguing lefty in the Padres system, Robert Gasser would be a good fit in Kansas City.

The 71st overall selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, Gasser has shown the ability to develop quickly. He has noticeably improved his changeup and increased his fastball velocity to the mid-90s. Gasser is not going to blow batters away, but he does incur groundballs at a good rate. 

Gasser's quick growth is promising, and the Royals would be smart to invest in him now. As the Royals' 2018 draft class continues to draw mixed results, Gasser has starter potential.

RHP Reiss Knehr

Jun 11, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Reiss Knehr (33) throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the seventh inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Top 100 Rank: N/A
Padres Top 30 Prospects Rank: 7th
MLB Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50

Similar to Gasser, Reiss Knehr is another prospect showing considerable growth on the diamond.

Knehr is a former two-way player, but is now strictly a pitcher. He was a starter for Triple-A El Paso and started on June 11 against the Colorado Rockies. He pitched 42/3 innings of shutout baseball, improving on a questionable 2021 season. 

Knehr is another member of the 2018 draft class. His fastball has great movement on it, but Knehr has primarily been a two-pitch pitcher. He has started using the changeup more in 2022, and it looks promising. Kansas City shouldn't balk at adding another 2018 pitcher to the mix. If San Diego is willing to move on from him, Knehr could be amongst the package of picks for Benintendi.