Word on the street — OK, word from Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan — is that Andrew Benintendi is the answer to the White Sox’s left-field woes from here until the end of the decade, pretty much.
Rogers reported the agreement, and Passan had the sum of $75 million. Yes, that is a franchise-record amount, thanks for asking.
It bears mentioning that the deal has not yet been confirmed by the White Sox. We’ll have more details, like happy Hahn quotes, when it is.
Benintendi started his career in Boston, and was said to be a big target for Rick Hahn both in the 2013 draft and later, when it came time to discuss the Chris Sale trade. After a 2018 season that saw him on the cusp of superstardom (4.8 WAR, .830 OPS, 123 OPS+ 21-of-24 in stolen bases, Benny dimmed. The 2018 campaign turned out to be his only .800+ OPS, and in fact he has never again topped even .776.
He is also being described as an “on-base machine,” which, relative to his new White Sox teammates, may be true. However, he stood at .324 OBP as recently as ... 2021.
That year, his sole full one in Kansas City, Benintendi won the only Gold Glove of his career. He profiles as an average-to-better left fielder, meaning every night will be gold on the South Side given the circus cavalcade of players manning the spot in the past several seasons.
Is Benintendi an overpay, at $15 million per? For 2023 at least, that implies about a 3.0 WAR player, which Benny has been just once. However, it’s the going rate for even an average outfielder, so no, not an overpay per se; if anything, the White Sox are getting some plaudits for a pretty heady deal in a market that’s gone a bit wild.
Is it odd that Benintendi’s is the biggest contract in White Sox history? Yup. But it was hardly less weird that Yasmani Grandal’s of three years ago was the prior record-holder.
Benintendi stands out, in many of the right ways for this White Sox roster. He leaps off of the page (defensive and on-base competency, salary) based solely on White Sox context.
This is a move forward, far more so than Nomar Mazara, Adam Eaton, et. et. et. et. et. al. At least today, we can be thankful for these small blessings.