After weeks of swirling rumors, the Royals have traded All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees for three minor league pitchers. Benintendi was enjoying one of his best seasons at age 28, hitting .320/.387/.398 with three home runs, a 123 OPS+, and 2.4 rWAR in 93 games. As a potential free agent this winter, it made sense for the Royals to move him this summer while they’re far back in the standings.
As for the return, they received three pitchers from the Yankees:
LHP T.J. Sikkema is a former first-round pick out of Mizzou who missed the entire 2021 season with injuries. He is back pitching in High-A ball at age 23, but is excelling with an ERA of 2.48 and 54 strikeouts in 36 1⁄3 innings with a walk rate of just 2.2 per-nine-innings. Sikkema throws a four-seamer at 93-95 mph as well as a two-seamer with sink, as well as a change up and slider. He has a crossfire delivery that can create a different look for hitters, and offers different arm angles as well. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the #19 prospect in the Yankees farm system, Baseball America ranks him #23, and Fangraphs ranks him #18. In the Royals farm system, MLB Pipeline now ranks him #21.
RHP Beck Way was a fourth-round pick in 2020 out of Northwest Florida State College. He features a very live fastball, gaining velocity from the 93-95 mph range to hitting 99 on the gun on occasion. He also throws a slider and change, and throws from a lower arm angle. He had a lot of control issues in college and in the lower minors, but has significantly improved his control this year with 3.2 walks-per-nine-innings. The 22-year-old had a 3.73 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings as a starter in High-A this year, but some feel his command issues will lead him to the bullpen eventually. MLB Pipeline ranks him #21 in the farm system, BA ranks him #13, and Fangraphs ranks him #26. He now ranks #12 in the KC farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.
RHP Chandler Champlain was a ninth-round pick in 2021 out of USC and has a 4.30 ERA with 11.5 strikeouts-per-nine-innings in 73 1⁄3 innings, mostly as a starter this year. The Yankees made some tweaks with his arsenal and he now features a fastball that can run in the high-90s along with a curve and a slider. BA ranks him as #29 in the system, MLB Pipeline and Fangraphs did not rank him. MLB Pipeline now ranks him #30 in the Royals farm system.
Keith Law did not have any of the three pitchers in his top 20 Yankees prospect list.
General Manager J.J. Picollo said the Royals preferred a return of minor leaguers rather than the compensatory draft pick Benintendi would have netted after the season.
“What we were able to receive is three pitchers that have a history in professional baseball, as opposed to potentially having a Draft pick down the road,” Picollo said. “We felt like that was in the best interest of the organization today.”
Here’s what the experts had to say.
Alec Lewis gets the word from scouts on the return for the Royals.
One opposing scout, who had evaluated all three pitchers, spoke most highly about Way, who relies heavily on a cutter/slider combination from an interesting sidearm-ish slot. From a fastball perspective, Way leans on a two-seamer that this year has averaged 93.7 mph and topped at 98.0 mph.
Dan Szymborski at Fangraphs sees it as a pretty fair deal..
From me, this is a thumbs-up trade for both of the teams involved. It was the right player at what I believe is the right price — my fantasy trade of Benintendi even had a similarly valued package heading to Kansas City.
ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle grades the return as a “B” for the Royals.
It’s a perfectly fine haul for a good player like Benintendi who is not really a cornerstone talent and whom you weren’t going to sign anyway. The only question is whether the Royals could have fared better by holding on to Benintendi, hoping to extract a premium prospect from someone as the deadline clock ticked down. Right now, it’s hard to ding them for that — but perhaps we’ll re-grade if we see players similar but inferior to Benintendi moved for greater return.
Keith Law thinks the deal raises questions about the Royals.
… which leads me to the bigger question I have about this trade: Did the Royals prioritize acquiring pitching over total value? It’s quite possible they believed this was the best possible return for Benintendi, regardless of position, but from my outside perspective, it looks like they chose to get pitching quantity rather than the highest value. If that’s true, and I have to emphasize this is just what I’m inferring from the trade, it’s somewhat damning given how much pitching they’ve drafted with high picks in the last six-to-seven years and how little that’s translated into help for the major-league rotation or bullpen.
Alex Duvall at Royals Farm Report profiles the pitchers the Royals received and gives a thumbs up.
I’m going to give the trade a B+ overall. I would feel much better about it IF…
1. TJ Sikkema had been healthy last year
2. Either Way or Champlain had a better than 50/50 shot at starting long-term
I’m a believer in Sikkema. I think he’s incredibly talented and his “stuff” is sure-fire big league stuff. It’s just that pitchers don’t normally just stop being hurt once they’ve started. So…we’ll see. Overall, they got three crazy talented pitchers for two months of Andrew Benintendi and that’s about all you can ask for. Now we just sit back and see what happens now that they’re in the system.
David Lesky at Inside the Crown thinks this is a JJ Picollo trade.
The reality is that a corner outfielder with minimal power and a little more than one-third of a season of control simply isn’t going to bring back a star. I think the Royals maybe could have had someone a little higher rated like Luis Gil if they had only wanted two pitchers, but to get three, they ended up in a bit of a middle ground. After taking some time to write this up, digest the trade a bit more and really think it through, I think they did just fine. They didn’t clean up and they didn’t bomb. They got some quality and quantity.
Craig Brown at Into the Fountains is fine with the trade, but wants to see some changes in the organization’s pitching development.
Thinking back to the trade the Royals made with the Braves earlier this month where they acquired a couple of bats for a draft pick, I noted at the time that, given the success of the club’s minor league hitting program, I was on board with Drew Waters as the headliner. The Benintendi trade is a little different. There aren’t any bats in the mix for the Royals, and even though the Royals pitching development leaves a lot to be desired, it is a decent return on the surface. With teams placing a high value on prospect capital these days, Kansas City was never going to get a top 100 prospect for a couple of months of Benintendi.
Mike Gillespie at Kings of Kauffman likes getting more pitching.
The answer is simple—teams can never have too much good pitching. Wednesday’s trade is designed to bring in more. And Sikkema, Way and Champlain have talent and potential, which isn’t a bad return for Benintendi who, had they kept him, surely would have moved on to free agency after the season.
All trades are gambles. This one may, or may not, work out for Kansas City. But the deal certainly seems promising.
Jerry Edwards at Inside the Royals thinks the Royals settled for too little.
The Yankees got an All-Star, and it didn’t even cost them a top-15 prospect. Now that the dust has settled, this trade feels like the Royals were absolutely terrified that Juan Soto and or Shohei Ohtani was going to be traded before Benintendi and as a result, KC wouldn’t get anything for him so they rushed to get a deal done for mediocre prospects.
The Baseball Trade Value model accepts the deal.
The #Yankees have reportedly acquired OF Andrew Benintendi ($8.1M median trade value) from the #Royals in exchange for RHPs Beck Way ($4.6M) and Chandler Champlain ($0.8M) and LHP TJ Sikkema ($2.0M).— Baseball Trade Values (@BaseballValues) July 28, 2022
The deal is accepted by our model. pic.twitter.com/GSIKVWSzS4
Maikel Garcia will replace Benny on the roster.
What’s next for the Royals?
Fans seemed a bit underwhelmed.
Seems underwhelming for one of the biggest names on the market, but KC went for quantity over quality. With pitching prospects, that might be the better strategy anyway. But let's be blunt: none of this matters unless the Royals overhaul their pitching development this winter. https://t.co/QOCuQkvJMA— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) July 28, 2022
After thinking about it, I think the Benny trade was good. Is it ideal, not really with how the Royals develop pitching, but I like the three arms as prospects and I think a majority of the fan base fell for a huge blockbuster trade idea that wasn't realistic. 1/2.— Trey Donovan (@Tdonova7) July 28, 2022
This organization is so incompetent lmao 3 A ball players for Benintendi? Might as well just release Merrifield and Taylor cause they ain’t brining in anything if this is the return for AN ALL STAR HITTING .320— PrimeTime KC (@PrimeTime_KC) July 28, 2022
Return seems a bit light at first glance, but also Kris Bryant got dealt last year for a pair of mid-level prospects so maybe it's about right?— Hunter Samuels (@HunterSamuels) July 28, 2022
Others are sad to see Benny go, even if they knew it was the right move.
I really did enjoy watching Andrew Benintendi as a Royal. Looking back I really didn’t give him as much love on the podcast as I should’ve. I’m glad he’s getting his opportunity to be in a playoff hunt!— Joel Penfield (@jtpenfield) July 28, 2022
How would you grade the Andrew Benintendi trade?
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