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Royals have had “exploratory talks” with Padres about Andrew Benintendi

The Padres are looking to make a deal soon.

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Kansas City Royals bats against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium on May 20, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

The adage is that the pennant race doesn’t truly begin until after Memorial Day, but now that it’s June, the Royals already find themselves out of contention. The team is far back in the standings despite some intriguing talent that could be attractive to other clubs. With less than two months to go before the August 2 trade deadline, you can expect some trade rumors to swirl around the Royals.

The first rumor of the summer comes from the East Village Times in the San Diego area, where James Clark reports that the Padres are “in exploratory talks” with the Royals over left fielder Andrew Benintendi. The 27-year-old is enjoying a terrific season before he becomes eligible for free agency this winter, hitting .320/.382/.793 with 20 walks in 53 games. Clark imagines the 2021 Gold Glove winner would play left field for the Padres, allowing Jurickson Profar to slide into a utility role. He writes that San Diego is “looking to get a deal done sooner rather than later.”

What would could the Royals receive for a few months of Benintendi? Clark doesn’t anticipate a huge return.

The asking price for Benintendi shouldn’t be debilitating to the Padres system. A few mid to lower-level players within the Padres’ top prospects should be enough for the Royals to accept a deal. The Padres have plenty of depth at the lower levels and could assist the Royals in their rebuilding process.

The Padres, who had a very deep farm system a few years ago, were ranked #21 in Baseball America’s organizational rankings last winter. Alex Duvall at Royals Farm Report tweeted that the Royals “loved” shortstop Jackson Merrill, who the Padres drafted late in the first round out of Kentucky last year. Their second-round pick, outfielder James Wood, is the kind of raw power, high-upside player they typically like, but with good walk numbers often rare for a player drafted out of high school. Outfielder Joshua Mears also has a good power bat, but with a lot of swing-and-miss to his game. Korry Howell has the speed they covet, with decent power as well, and could be a centerfielder of the future. The Royals could also try to re-acquire outfielder Esteury Ruiz, who they traded to San Diego in 2017 in the Trevor Cahill deal, and is now a 23-year-old hitting .344/.474/.611 with 37 steals in 49 games at Double-A.

Among pitchers, Robert Gasser was a Padres second-round pick last year and is already in high-A ball with strong strikeout numbers and a mid-90s fastball. Other Padres pitching prospects are either older close-to-MLB-ready pitchers like Reiss Knehr, Reggie Lawson, and Kevin Kopps, or very young and far away like Victor Lizarraga, Jarlin Susana, and Jagger Haynes. You can read more about MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Padres prospects here.

Clark also reports that the Padres could be very sensitive about adding salary, and may require the Royals or a third team to pay whatever is remaining on the $8.5 million Benintendi is owed this year. The Royals have not traditionally paid other teams money in order to improve their trade return, but that philosophy could change under new owner John Sherman.

Other teams that could be interested in Benintendi this summer include the Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, and Marlins.