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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Benny’s Gonna Jet?

Thing I said previously.

OUTFIELD: The big question in the outfield is Andrew Benintendi. It’s pretty clear that ZiPS isn’t too bothered by 14 bad games during a pandemic and has Benny going back to his 2019 form for better or for worse. For the Sox to move back into contention Benintendi at least splitting the difference between 2018 and 2019 would be a big boost.

Thing vi said in response today;

Seeing reports that a trade of Benintendi is… I don’t know about “imminent”, but reportedly multiple teams are interested and negotiating with Boston.

Jose’s comment, spun a different way - maybe even different than he’d been intending - is that returning to 2019 form isn’t good enough. They need something closer to 2018. The acquisition of Renfroe means that they have someone who is projected to perform around what one should realistically expect from Benintendi, while the latter’s record pre-2019 suggests substantial upside that might be more attractive in trade. I hope that Boston keeps Benintendi AND he returns to 2018 form, but (a) I don’t think both will happen, and (b) this roster needs more than hope.

I have too much to offer on this to respond in the thread, but not enough probably for a full on post here.  I haven’t posted in a bit (nearly a month) so what the hell, let’s get something up as Spring Training looms (hopefully).

Regarding Benintendi I think the biggest issue that vi correctly touches on is that I think we have moved from “willing to talk” to “actively discussing” when it comes to trading Benintendi.  Right or wrong the smoke is sufficient to think a trade is likely at this point.  So to stick with vi for a moment I’ll address his comment.  I wasn’t particularly intending to say that a return to 2019 form isn’t enough but that is true.  The Sox need better from Benintendi.  In 2019 he was a 1.8 WAR player, in 2018 he was 4.5 WAR.  Somewhere in that range would be sufficient and if you put the range at 2.5-3.5 I’d take that bet.  I think vi was saying that expecting him to return to 2018 levels is unrealistic and on that I agree but I do think he can be better than he was in 2019.  One thing about Benintendi I have read a lot this year is the concerns about his foot speed the last two years.  Recognizing that Alex Cora was here for the first of those two years I believe that there is a reasonable chance Benny takes steps to address this and that alone is the impetus to returning to the player he was.

With all that said the part of this I don’t grasp is what the trade market is or should be for Andrew Benintendi.  I’ve long felt that the people who thought he was a future star were overselling him but now with the last couple of years I think a lot of people are bailing on him too hard.  As I said I think he’s a 2.5-3.5 WAR player amd if you go back to 2019 that would get you Kevin Kiermayer on the low end (2.4) and Jorge Soler (3.6) on the high end.  I don’t think that’s any kind of a problem for the Sox.  The trick then is getting someone to send you a talent that is worth a 2.5-3.5 player.  Trying to see guys in that range who got dealt ain’t easy.  The Twins traded Eduardo Escobar (2.7 in 2018) for three fairly uninspiring prospects, the Dodgers traded Alex Verdugo (3.2 in 2019) for a future Hall of Famer, the Tigers trade Nick Castellanos for a couple of mediocre prospects.  That doesn’t particularly inspire me (though hey, maybe you call the Angels about Trout and Pujols? yeah, what team would trade a superstar like that?).  Benintendi strikes me as a guy very similar in value to Jackie Bradley Jr.  He’s a good enough player to keep around and you roll with him until he reaches free agency (after 2022 in his case) and figure it out then.  I don’t think he’s someone you trade to get rid of him and the Sox aren’t in a position where Benny is blocking anyone so ride him.  The problem here is if I was the Sox I wouldn’t trade Andrew Benintendi for any of the offers I am likely to get but if I was another team I wouldn’t offer the Sox what they want for him.

Now hey, if the Sox DO get an intriguing offer, yeah go for it.  That should be true of every player in the organization.  On a larger scale, I’m not sure what is happening with the Sox right now.  Obviously the off-season is ridiculously quiet across the game and the Sox are no different.  I don’t mind the Sox being hesitant, I don’t really love the FA market this season.  If the plan is (as it appears) to simply ride one more grim season and then see where we stand that probably makes some sense.  However from both a talent and a fan involvement perspective this organization can ill afford to lose much in the way of good players.  Andrew Benintendi is still popular and dealing him for a couple of Single A dudes who might someday be as good as him seems sketchy both in baseball terms and in PR terms.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 13, 2021 at 01:06 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 13, 2021 at 01:50 PM (#5999501)
And before you ask, no I'm not proud of myself for the title of this post.
   2. villageidiom Posted: January 13, 2021 at 04:39 PM (#5999547)
All fair points, including post #1. :-)
   3. villageidiom Posted: January 13, 2021 at 10:18 PM (#5999647)
Also, FWIW, I phrased my comment specifically so I could say "been intending" when talking about Benintendi.

Y'all must be used to the lengths I'll go through to amuse myself, if you've been attending Sox Therapy long enough.
   4. villageidiom Posted: January 14, 2021 at 11:46 AM (#5999721)
And likewise, with the "been attending" comment in #3.

(taps mic) Is this thing on?
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 14, 2021 at 01:43 PM (#5999751)
(taps mic) Is this thing on?


We'd both look a lot smarter if it wasn't.
   6. villageidiom Posted: January 14, 2021 at 02:57 PM (#5999761)
Another fair point.
   7. villageidiom Posted: January 14, 2021 at 04:01 PM (#5999779)
Playing devil's advocate here for a minute... What Red Sox players are most likely to bring back value in trade?

Below I'm going to convert each player's ZIPS projected 2021 WAR into a dollar value, at a rate of $7m per win. (This might be low by $1m or so, but I'm going with it for now.) I will also take that projection forward with the assumption that it'll degrade by $4m per year (a little more than half a win) for each successive year they're still under contract. I'll then compare it to what they're due to make, with some arbitration guesses in there as needed. All numbers are rounded because did you see how imprecise I'm saying this is?

Vazquez: 2 years. $28m in win value, for $13m. (Note: 1 of those 2 years is a club option. I'm assuming it gets exercised.)

Rodriguez: 1 year. $20m win value, for $8m.

Bogaerts: 2 or 5 or 6 years left, depending on opt-out and vesting option. Let's say because of the opt-out it's effectively 2 years for the sake of trade value (i.e the same argument I'd made about JDM). $52m in win value, for $40m. (If he goes the full 6 years, it's $98m win value for $120m.)

Devers: 3 arb years remaining. $51m in win value, for maybe $42m (= $10m + $14m + $18m).

Verdugo: 4 years. $40m in win value, for maybe $34m (= $1m + $7m + $11m + $15m).

Barnes: 1 year. $5m win value, for $5m.

Benintendi: 2 years left. Around $16m in win value, signed for $7m 2021 + (let's say) $10m arb 2022 = $17m.

Pedroia: 1 year. -$1m in win value, for $12m.

Martinez: 2 years. $24m in win value, for $39m.

Eovaldi: 2 years. $10m win value, for $34m.

Sale: I think in this case you might argue Sale won't exercise his opt-out, and this should be treated by an acquiring team as a 4-year deal. $64m in win value, for $115m. (If he opted out it would be more like $40m in win value for $60m.)

I'm not going to bother with the other players because if any of their less recognizable names are on the trade list they are not going to drive a return in value. To sum up for those who aren't into the math of it all, here's how much the player's production is worth, minus what he's due to be paid:

+$15m Vazquez
+$12m Rodriguez, Bogaerts
+$ 9m Devers
+$ 6m Verdugo
+$ 0m Barnes
-$ 1m Benintendi
-$13m Pedroia
-$15m Martinez
-$24m Eovaldi
-$51m Sale

The only things I'd say that would move the needle on any of these guys are (a) do they have the potential to vastly outperfom ZIPS? and (b) will there be any playing time variance? For example, Sale's projection has him making 20 starts, and I worked with the assumption that that's what we should expect out of him throughout his contract. If he's somehow healthy after he returns in 2021, and performs at ZIPS-expected quality, then from additional playing time alone his value will go up. Likewise, if players are able to maintain their WAR levels for several years then my half-win-per-year regression is underselling their value, and thus they should be able to overperform. This hurts most the players signed for longer terms (such as Bogaerts and Sale) more than the others.

That said, of all the players on that list I think Benintendi is the one who has the best chance of outperforming. That's for many of the reasons we've discussed. It's possible he returns to 2018 levels. Teams might think they're buying low on him, which might be why he's drawing interest. He's in theory just entering his peak years. I don't want to see Devers, nor Bogaerts, nor Vazquez get traded - SOME stability, please! - but if they can't extend Rodriguez I wouldn't be surprised to see him sent away during the season.

I didn't put Pedroia in that list to suggest he might be traded. Rather, I did it simply to underscore the Red Sox are counting on several players listed below him.
   8. Darren Posted: January 16, 2021 at 02:02 PM (#6000119)
Nice writeup! One correction (I think?), Devers just settled for $4.575 for 2021, so I'm guessing his contracts are something like 4.575/8/12 (assuming he basically returns to form). That would give him $51M in value (per your number above) for $24.575M, so an excess value of $26.425M, pushing him to the top of the list.

I think you're right that Benintendi is one of the guys who has the best chance to outperform, as does Devers. Or, put another way, these are the two guys that are most likely to be differently valued by different teams--some see them as likely to step forward, others see them as what their numbers say or worse. If the Red Sox trade Benintendi, I think it will be an indication that they think he is in the latter category.

Why are they doing this? I think this may harken back to Theo's triple bank shots, or 'Smile' if you will. If they can trade Beni for a starter with a similar salary, then add Ozuna/Brantley/Springer, they could find themselves in better shape than if they just went after a SP. Then they get Semien to play SS, move Bogaerts to 3B, and Devers to 1B, suring up the infield defense.

Whatever the case, things are unfolding really slowly. I really hope they don't plan to just tinker around the edges here.
   9. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 16, 2021 at 02:32 PM (#6000124)
Yeah, Devers just settled yesterday and I read somewhere that the 4.6 is the same as Muncy who went 7.5 then 11 so assume something similar.

My guess on Benny, and it’s just a guess, is that Bloom is checking out the market. If someone is willing to give up something valuable in return great, if not, keep him. I think you are right that if they move Benny they believe he’s not going to bounce back.
   10. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 16, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6000125)
What do people think about Semien? I’m not sold. He’s 30 and that 2019 season really sticks out. He’s not a base stealer and a lot of his value comes from his defense which is both a bit less reliable and I’m not convinced it’s going to hold up moving forward.

Having said that he obviously makes the Sox better assuming he plays second base.but that also (presumably?) lessens his defensive value moving him from shortstop.

Here’s a crazy though, Rafael Devers...second baseman. I personally think he’s going to be fine at third base but his issues there seem arm related. He’s got good range (especially to his left) and giving him the shorter throw might help out. I’m not advocating that, it’s probably a terrible idea but just throwing it out there. Dalbec-Devers-Semien-Bogaerts?
   11. Darren Posted: January 16, 2021 at 04:38 PM (#6000143)
I forget who but someone was saying they'd be surprised if Beni (not spelling it out anymore!) wasn't traded by this weekend.

I think they (rightly) see Semien as a good pickup if he comes on a cheap, short deal.


Here’s a crazy though, Rafael Devers...second baseman.


That is a crazy though, but I dunno. Moving an error-prone 3B to 2B sounds like a recipe for trouble. Also, part of the reason I'd move him is because I'm worried about his conditioning.
   12. pikepredator Posted: January 17, 2021 at 12:20 PM (#6000181)
I applaud both the analysis as well as the wordplay.

Benintendi is hard for me to assess but I think I want him to be better than he actually is. 2 WAR player is solid but being a bit on the small side if he declines much it could be steep. Hopefully someone else overvalues him as I do, and is wrong (as I am).
   13. The Mighty Quintana Posted: January 17, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6000184)
I still feel that Benintendi, even at his ceiling, has little value as a left-fielder in Fenway. For me, his whole value hinges on playing a cromulent center field.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 17, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#6000191)
Can Benintendi regularly play CF? Any explanation for his declining speed?
Benintendi’s sprint speed has slowed from 28.6 feet per second as a 22-year-old in 2016 to 27.7 ft/s as a 24-year-old in 2018 to 26.6 ft/s as a 26-year-old in the short sample of 2020. That’s a rather stunning fall from the 89th percentile to the 43rd percentile.
At that rate, he’s but a ~ half decade from Molina territory.
   15. Darren Posted: January 17, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6000210)
Can Benintendi regularly play CF? Any explanation for his declining speed?



When he came up, the consensus seemed to be he was a bit of a tweener, but in the past couple years his speed/body quickness declines have made his defense pretty bad. Not sure why it's happened at such a young age, though.

At that rate, he’s but a ~ half decade from Molina territory.


Yes, but right now he'd be one of the fastest catchers in baseball!
   16. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 18, 2021 at 01:51 PM (#6000290)
Apparently the Sox have completed the Workman/Hembree trade by sending CJ Chatham to Philadelphia. I suspect this is utterly meaningless but I’m a bit surprised by it. Chatham never quite lived up to his billing and as a 26 year old with just one mediocre season above Single A he’s far from a sure thing. But he seems like a guy who could have had a role this year as some kind tweener filling holes on the roster and going back and forth between Worcester and Boston (that is going to take some gettin’ used to).
   17. Darren Posted: January 23, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6001396)
Red Sox add K Hernandez and Garret Richards. So... at least it's something? I dunno, pretty uninspiring. I was really hoping they were going to dip below the threshold and then go back to spending like a large market team, but this is pretty depressing.
   18. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 23, 2021 at 09:01 PM (#6001410)
Neither move is exciting but both are good. Having said that I don’t want them to spend money just to spend money. The Springer deal, I’d have done that though I wonder if he would have been interested. Bauer scares me at the numbers I’ve been reading. Ozuna is still out there and I like him a lot. Is his arm good enough to handle right field? The stories about Tanaka’s salary demands don’t seem outrageous, I’d go for him though it seems more and more likely he’s heading back to Japan. Realmuto? I’d take him and Vazquez could probably bring something back in trade.

As for these deals, they are good if unexciting. Given the tire fire that has been second base the last couple of years he should be an upgrade.
   19. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: January 23, 2021 at 09:07 PM (#6001411)
The other thing is as Nasty Nate is fond of pointing out one way they can use their money is in trade. Take on a contract to get a star in a trade. I think given the objective of rebuilding the system that probably isn’t likely but it can’t be dismissed. Especially if they make a Benintendi trade. Without looking in depth sign Ozuna, trade Benintendi for someone plus a bad contract? I don’t know what’s out there where that could work.

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