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Benintendi goes to Royals in 3-team trade

By Jimmy Golen
The Associated Press
The Kansas City Royals acquired Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, pictured, in a three-team trade involving the New York Mets on Wednesday night. The Royals, who also get cash, are sending outfielder Franchy Cordero to the Red Sox and outfield prospect Khalil Lee to the Mets as part of the deal.

BOSTON — The Red Sox sent Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday in a three-team trade that also included the New York Mets, parting with the final member of the outfield trio that helped Boston win the 2018 World Series.

The Red Sox traded Benintendi along with an unspecified amount of cash to the Royals for Franchy Cordero and two players to be named. Boston also received minor league right-handed pitcher Josh Winckowski and a player to be named from the New York Mets. The Mets received outfielder Khalil Lee from the Royals.

“For our fans, this is not the first time in the last year they’ve seen an important player leave,” Chaim Bloom, Red Sox chief baseball officer, told reporters in a conference call late Wednesday night after the deal was announced. “I know it’s tough, I know it’s painful.”

Benintendi, 26, led all players with 15 runs during Boston's 2018 postseason run, when he joined Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the Red Sox outfield. Betts, who was the AL MVP that season, was traded to the Dodgers in a salary dump last spring, and Bradley is a free agent who remains unsigned.

“I wouldn’t have predicted it, but we are where we are,” Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran said.

Bloom has said that Bradley could still return under the right deal.

“We remain hopeful we will be able to find a fit with Jackie," Bloom said, “and also recognize that might not happen."

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Benintendi was second in AL rookie of the year balloting in ’17. He batted .290 with 16 homers and 87 RBIs while helping Boston win a franchise-record 108 regular-season games and the World Series in 2018.

But his numbers dropped off a little the next year and a lot in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he batted only .103. In all, he has batted .273 with 51 home runs, 260 RBIs and 53 stolen bases for Boston; his 32 outfield assists are the most in baseball over the past four years.

Bloom said he had faith Benintendi would bounce back.

“Andrew’s coming off two years that he was capable of more than he showed on the field," he said. “Last year I was optimistic about Andrew, and I still am."

Cordero, 26, has a .236 average and 12 homers in 95 games with the San Diego Padres and Royals. Winckowski, 22, was ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Mets system by Baseball America. He was a 15th-round pick by Toronto in 2016.