Aaron Judge has commanded the spotlight this offseason, but there’s another free agent outfielder the Yankees can re-sign – or lose to a bitter rival.
Andrew Benintendi is coming off an All-Star campaign with Kansas City and New York. While his numbers with the Royals (.320/.387/.398 over 93 games) were much better than his output with the Yankees (.254/.331/.404 over 33 games) before a broken wrist ended his season in early September, the 28-year-old still projects as a fit in the Bronx.
However, the contact hitter should have a handful of suitors to choose from. That group could include the Astros, who have had internal discussions about possibly acquiring Benintendi, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
Nightengale said Houston has also discussed Cody Bellinger.
Surely the Yankees don’t want to see Benintendi sign with the reigning champs after the Astros swept New York in the American League Championship Series. But it’s unclear just how badly the pinstripers want Benintendi back, and Judge’s sweepstakes could hold up any other costly pursuits.
The Yankees acquired Benintendi for pitching prospects Chandler Champlain, T.J. Sikkema and Beck Way on July 27. With Joey Gallo struggling, New York wanted a strong defender and left-handed hitter with a knack for putting the ball in play.
The Yankees, as presently constructed, could still use the skillset Benintendi offers. Internal left field options include Aaron Hicks, who struggled mightily last season, and Oswaldo Cabrera, who can play the position but does not have much outfield experience.
This is not the first time the Astros have been tied to one of New York’s free agents this offseason. Houston was said to have strong interest in first baseman Anthony Rizzo, but he ultimately re-signed with the Yankees.
The Astros filled their need at first on Monday when they agreed to a deal with longtime White Sox slugger and 2020 MVP José Abreu.
If the Astros were to land Benintendi, he would presumably replace free agent Michael Brantley. He is also a contact oriented, lefty hitting, left fielder whose season ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury. But Brantley is 35, making Benintendi a more desirable long-term option.
Brantley could be an option for the Yankees if Benintendi doesn’t stick around.
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