One way or another, the New York Yankees needed to upgrade their outfield at the trade deadline. General manager Brian Cashman had been considering multiple options, including Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ian Happ from the Chicago Cubs, and even a superstar acquisition in Juan Soto.
However, Cashman went with the rental option for the 2022 season in Andrew Benintendi. The Yankees are gearing up to face off against the Kansas City Royals in a four-game series starting Thursday evening, but Benintendi will switch jerseys and don the pinstripes.
While fans are excited about the acquisition, star slugger Aaron Judge expressed his words of encouragement around the former Boston Red Sox outfielder.
“He’s a really good player,” Judge said after Wednesday’s loss to the Mets. “I’ve had a chance to play against him for quite a few years when he was playing over in Boston. I’ve seen a lot of impressive things. … He’ll definitely be a big piece to what we got going on here.”
Benintendi immediately offers fantastic hitting with runners in scoring position, one of the Yankees’ biggest struggles since the conclusion of the All-Star break. In fact, with RISP, he’s hitting .294 with a 38.2% on-base rate, 25 hits, 30 RBIs, 14 walks, and just 12 strikeouts over 85 at-bats. He’s highly reliable, but the biggest question is where the Yankees will utilize him in the batting order.
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Where should the Yankees use Benintendi in the lineup?
Benintendi hits typically from the second slot, where Judge resides. However, he can easily feature as the lead-off man or toward the bottom of the order, where they can improve the quality of at-bats.
“Bat-to-ball skills, speed, always works good at-bats and then, if you’re not too careful, he can leave the yard on you. I’ve seen it many times at Yankee Stadium,” Judge said. “He’s just a well-rounded player, that’s for sure.”
With Joey Gallo struggling considerably in the outfield, the Yankees needed to make a move. They gave up three single-A prospects in exchange, which is far less than anticipated by most.
“I think adding a guy like that would definitely give us a little pump up,” Judge said. “I think he’s gonna fit right in.”
It will be interesting to see how manager Aaron Boone shifts around the outfield, with Benintendi likely taking over in left field. Judge will probably stay in centerfield with Aaron Hicks shifting over to right field. Giancarlo Stanton can continue featuring in the designated hitter spot upon his return from Achilles tendinitis.
Nonetheless, this is the first move of what is expected to be an active trade deadline for the Yankees. They still have their sights set on a potential starting pitcher like Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas. They could also use another bullpen arm to help smooth over the loss of Michael King.