Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images
Queue up the Boyz II Men song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” because Andrew Benintendi has been officially traded to the Kansas City Royals. In return, the Sox get outfielders Franchy Cordero and Khalil Lee from the Royals, and in a separate trade, flipped Lee to the Mets for pitcher Josh Winckowski. Oh and also not one, not two, but THREE players to be named later (2 from the Royals and 1 from the Mets). The most fascinating part of this trade is the Players To Be Named Later, so let’s start there.
PTBNL is usually a dreaded term when it comes to trade returns, especially in recent history. Recent PTBNL’s to be sent to the Red Sox are pitcher Jacob Wallace (for Kevin Pillar), catcher Jhonny Pereda (for Travis Lakins), pitcher Josh Taylor (for Deven Marrero), infielder Marco Hernandez (for Felix Doubront), pitcher Graham Godfrey (for Sandy Rosario) and pitcher Kyle Kaminska (for Zach Stewart). At best you’ve probably only heard of Josh Taylor and Marco Hernandez. What makes this deal unique however is what has made all of baseball unique for the last 12 months, and that’s Covid-19. With no minor league season played last year and inconsistent results from the “Alternate Training Sites” most players in Minor League Baseball have no updated scouting reports since 2019. So Chaim Bloom took an interesting route on agreeing on a list of players to choose from, and then being allowed some of the 2021 minor league season to be played before deciding on the final names. Now this probably won’t mean you’re going to see the Mets and Royals best prospects coming the Red Sox way, but it would be possible to see a return of a top 10 and 2 top 30 guys joining the Red Sox. And in a system badly in need of depth that is a welcome return for Benintendi, who is coming off a down 2019, a disastrous 2020, and who didn’t really have a defined role on the 2021 roster.
In Franchy Cordero, the Red Sox get a similar “will he won’t he” outfielder like Benintendi. But the comparison stops there. Benintendi is known for his solid hit tool, and average to above average power, speed and defense. That gives him a high floor as a solid MLB bench bat, with a ceiling of an every day player who will give you a good average, some pop, a solid glove and a handful of steals. Cordero has some very loud tools with power and speed. He led the minors in triples in 2016 and 2017, and also put up an OPS of .972 with 17 HR’s in that 2017 AAA season. Now you’ll notice that calling out 2016-2017 numbers seems odd in 2021, but Cordero has dealt with a bunch of injuries since then. In the 2018 season he went to the disabled list with a groin injury, in 2019 he only played in 9 games due to an elbow injury, and a wrist issue kept him to just 16 games in 2020. Dayton Moore, the GM of the Royals, was quick to praise Cordero after the trade though, and on the injury history added “He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Some of it is just kind of freakish”.
In Josh Winckowski the Red Sox get a live arm who averages 93-96 and tops out at 97. He had just been acquired by the Mets from the Blue Jays in the Steven Matz deal earlier this offseason. Winckowski also features an average changeup, an inconsistent slider, and is reportedly working on a splitter as well. If he can get all of those pitches to average or better he could be a serviceable starter, and if not he could still be a usable bullpen piece.
So overall, how did the Red Sox do? Unfortunately all you can give them is an “Incomplete” until we find out the remaining 3 players in the deal. With Cordero you have a toolsy-incomplete hitter, that if he puts it all together could be an absolute stud (BIG IF though). In Winckowski, you add another live arm to a system that is desperate for depth. And the PTBNL’s are TBD.