The Royals have made the first significant move of this year’s trade deadline sending Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The return is reportedly LHP T.J. Sikkema, RHP Beck Way, and RHP Chandler Champlain.
Sikkema, who turned 24 two days ago, is the 19th ranked prospect in the Yankees system according to MLB Pipeline, 23rd according to Baseball America, and 18th according to Fangraphs. Sikkema was the 39th overall draft pick in 2019 out of Mizzou. He lacks power stuff but is very polished with a fastball that sits low-90s and touches 95, along with a slider and changeup that both look like they could be at least average big league offerings. His varying arm angles and manipulation of his pitches allows his stuff to play up, and he commands his pitches well. Sikkema missed all of last year due to injury and has spent all of this year in A+, where he’s thrown 36.1 innings with a 2.48 ERA and 3.05 FIP. He has the potential to factor into the Royals rotation as soon as next season.
Way, who turns 23 next month, is the 21st ranked prospect in the Yankees system according to MLB Pipeline, 13th according to Baseball America, and 26th according to Fangraphs. Way was a 4th round draft pick in 2020 out of Northwest Florida JC. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and has topped out at 99. He also throws a changeup that he sells well but lacks consistency with, and a slider with sweeping action that flashes plus. He struck out a ton of batters in A and A+ last year but with mixed results otherwise. This year, Way has thrown 72.1 innings in A+ with a 3.73 ERA and 4.36 FIP. His strikeouts are down, but he’s been better at limiting walks. This is a live arm, but there are some command issues here and he may be best used as a reliever at higher levels.
Champlain, who turned 23 four days ago, was a 9th round pick of the Yankees in last year’s draft out of USC. He’s ranked 29th in the Yankees system according to Baseball America. He has the type of frame you like to see in a starter, standing 6’5” and 220 lbs. According to Tampa Tarpon’s pitching coach Grayson Crawford:
“He was phenomenal...It was electric. It was up to 96. He’s been up to 97. He has a new slider and cutter this year. He’s always had a curveball. He’s right at 70% strikes, so he’s really filling up the zone. Chandler definitely has everything to stick as a starter forever. He’s probably one of the most projectable guys we have and he continues to get better and better.”
In 73.1 innings in A-ball this year, Champlain has a 4.30 ERA but a 3.69 FIP, with solid strikeout and walk numbers but some home run problems. He was viewed as a high-upside project coming out of the draft due to some inconsistency with his delivery, but he’s showed potential in the minors.
Benintendi was in the midst of his best season since 2018, posting a slash line of .321/.389/.399 through Tuesday’s games. Though he’s hitting for less power than ever before with an .079 ISO, his batting average and on-base percentage both represent career highs, and his 13.5% strikeout rate is the lowest of his career. He’ll take his contact skills to a Yankees lineup that has been the best in the majors. The Yankees had room to upgrade in the outfield given the struggles of Joey Gallo and an injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Benintendi will provide plus defense in left field and balance to a righty-heavy lineup.