With exactly one week to go until the trade deadline, the Red Sox have reportedly made injured outfielder Andrew Benintendi available in trade talks, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Per Rosenthal, the subject of Benintendi being on the trading block came up when discussing what the Indians’ plans are in regards to right-handers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac.
Earlier this month, both Clevinger and Plesac broke the Indians’ COVID-19 protocols when the pair of hurlers broke curfew and didn’t stay in the team hotel after a game against the White Sox in Chicago.
The two were subsequently optioned to Cleveland’s alternate training site on August 14, and one or the other could be dealt before August 31 seeing how their teammates may not accept them back due to a lack of accountability on their part.
That being said, Rosenthal notes that the Indians “trading one of them for a power-hitting outfielder would be a logical step for a team that ranks last in the majors in OPS from its outfielders.”
This is where Benintendi comes into the picture. Not necessarily because he is a power-hitting outfielder, but rather, like Clevinger, the 26-year-old outfielder has amassed three-plus years of service time and is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
Despite that common link, Benintendi is currently on the 10-day injured list due to a strained rib cage that will likely sideline him well into September. Even before that, the former first-round pick had struggled at the plate to begin the year, going 4-for-his-first-39 (.103) with one RBI and four runs scored through 14 games played.
Clevinger, on the other hand, posted a 3.24 ERA and .802 OPS against over his first three starts and 16 2/3 innings pitched this season before getting demoted.
As Rosenthal notes, Clevinger was originally slated to make $4.1 million this season, and that figure will only go up in the 29-year-old’s final two years of arbitration eligibility. For a frugal team such as the Indians, they may want to get out from under Clevinger’s contract before it becomes too much of a burden.
Benintendi, meanwhile, is on a much more cost-controlled deal after inking a two-year, $10 million extension back in February that buys out his first two years of arbitration eligibility.
If you want to boil this all down, it basically comes down to the notion that the Indians are a team in need of outfield help, while the Red Sox, who currently boast the second-worst starters’ ERA in baseball (6.04), are in need of starting pitching help.
As noted by Rosenthal, this sort of scenario “demonstrate[s] the challenge of finding the right fit” in trade talks going forward.
If Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is aggressive and active enough, though, Benintendi, and a plethora of other Sox players, could be moved between now and the end of the month. It likely all depends on the return that Boston would be getting back.