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Blue Jays interested in Andrew Benintendi, Royals bullpen arms

The Jays have been keeping an eye on the Royals.

Texas Rangers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images

The Royals have already made one trade this summer, sending Carlos Santana to Seattle earlier this week. With one month before the trade deadline, you can expect the Royals to be busy looking for ways to get this rebuild project moving faster. General Manager JJ Picollo recently told Anne Rogers at that the team would look to move players on expiring contracts, particularly left fielder Andrew Benintendi.

“We’re going to be exploring everything we can possibly explore to make our team better,” Picollo said. “Guys on expiring contracts tend to draw a little bit more interest than those that are not, especially teams that are contending. So a lot like we’ve gone through with Carlos, we’ll go through the same process with Andrew. Andrew is a really good player. He’s having a great year. If he’s with us the entire year, we’ll be a better team for it. But at the same time, I think if there’s an opportunity that allows us to make us better not only today but more so even moving into the future, we have to be open minded to it.

Benintendi is sure to draw interest from a lot of contenders as he has been a solid bat at the top of the order. The 27-year-old is having his best season since 2018 with a line of .303/.368/.391 going into Wednesday’s game. His 119 wRC+ is 20th among all outfielders and his 1.4 fWAR is 21st. He has one of the top walk-to-strikeout ratios in baseball and he won a Gold Glove last year for his play in left field.

The left-handed bat has already reportedly drawn interest from the Padres, and a recent report suggests the Blue Jays are keeping tabs on him as well. Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets that Toronto is among the teams interested in Benintendi, and could have some interest in Royals relievers as well.

Despite some bullpen woes this year, the Royals do have a pair of attractive bullpen arms in Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont. Since the beginning of the 2020 season, Barlow has been worth 2.8 fWAR, the 12th-most valuable reliever in baseball. This year he has a 2.20 ERA in 32 23 innings, although his strikeout rate has dropped to the lowest of his career at 8.8 per-nine-innings. The 28-year-old Staumont is one of the hardest-throwing relievers in baseball and has a 3.81 ERA this year with 11.1 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, although he has had a high walk rate. Barlow would not be eligible for free agency until 2025, and Staumont is under club control through 2026, making them valuable to any team.

The Blue Jays farm system was ranked #19 by Baseball America and #21 by MLB Pipeline. They are loaded at the catcher position, but so are the Royals. They have a pair of potential third basemen - an area of need for the Royals - at the top of their prospect list in Orelvis Martinez and Jordan Groshans. Other names that could interest the Royals are pitchers Ricky Tiedemann, CJ Van Eyk (who just had Tommy John surgery), and Adam Kloffenstien, and speedy infielder/outfielder Samad Taylor.

Benintendi will earn $8.5 million this year, which should be a manageable salary for most contenders. Other teams that could be interested in him include the Brewers, Marlins, Phillies, Cardinals, and Braves.