Benintendi feels at home with KC, Royals
Andrew Benintendi's name had been swirling through trade rumors throughout the Major League Baseball offseason. He said he heard them, but the 26-year-old outfielder did his best to stay focused on preparing for the new season ahead.
"I tried not to pay too much attention to it because there's only so much I can control," Benintendi said. "Whatever happens, happens."
When Red Sox general manager Chaim Bloom came ringing Wednesday night, Benintendi said he knew what it might be about.
"He said, 'There's a good chance you're going to get traded tonight,'" Benintendi said. "Didn't know the team, and then I found out it's the Royals, and I'm extremely excited."
The Royals officially announced their acquisition of Benintendi late Wednesday night. It was a three-team deal with the Red Sox and Mets. The Royals sent outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later to Boston and prospect Khalil Lee to New York.
A World Series champion with the Red Sox in 2018, Benintendi is a native of Cincinnati and former member of the University of Arkansas baseball team. He said it feels like something of a homecoming for him.
"I'm from the Midwest, going to a Midwest team," Benintendi said. "I'm ready to get there, ready to meet people, build those relationships and get going."
Benintendi said he originally became familiar with Kansas City and Royals fans when he was at Arkansas in 2014 and 2015. He noted Kansas City has been on his radar for a while.
"Kansas City has honestly been one of my favorite cities to visit, with the barbecue and there down at the Plaza," Benintendi said. "I'm going to sound monotonous, I feel like, this whole time, but I'm ready to build those relationships and get things going."
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Benintendi has been on his radar for a while, too. He said the deal has been in the works for the last couple months.
"Andrew Benintendi is a proven talent at this point in his career," Moore said. "He's a proven winner. He gets on base, does a lot of things that you need players to do in your lineup if you're going to win."
Moore said a great motivation for making a deal for Benintendi was the fact that he gives the Royals an opportunity to win, both in the present and the future.
"Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, (Adalberto) Mondesi, Salvador Perez, there's four players right there that can do some special things on a baseball field, and we wanted to add to that group," Moore said. "I think it just allows us to have guys settle in in their current roles and be who they need to be for us to win."
Moore said Benintendi will fit in well with the Royals’ core, and Benintendi agreed, saying he believes his game fits well at Kauffman Stadium, both at the plate and in the field.
"Obviously, it's a lot different than Fenway. Left field, you have a lot more room to run out there, which I'm excited about," Benintendi said. "I always loved playing there, something about it."
Benintendi missed the majority of the shortened 2020 season due to broken ribs, so he said he's more motivated than he's ever been to get back on the field this season after hitting just .103 in 14 games.
In the three seasons prior to last year’s injury, Benintendi averaged .276, 156 hits, 16 home runs, 36 doubles, 82 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 86 runs and 70 walks a season.
"I haven't played since last August, so I'm ready to go," Benintendi said. "I can't wait to get out to Arizona and start things off the right way."
Royals spring training begins next Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers report on Feb 17. Full squad workouts begin Feb 22.