The die is cast. Barring some unforeseen game-changing development, the KC Royals will soon trade Andrew Benintendi.
A deal is so likely, in fact, that it might be done before you read this. Only the team he’ll be traded to, and the Royals return, are yet to be determined.
That Benintendi is surely on his way out of Kansas is the inevitable sum of a few key factors. For starters, he’s a good player who’ll be a free agent at season’s end and his 2022 performance (he went into the All-Star Break slashing .317/.386/.401) only increase the good market value he established with a bounce-back 2021 campaign.
Benintendi also snared his first Gold Glove and All-Star berth with the Royals and is the best the club has offered at the plate since Opening Day. That’s all value added.
Kansas City also has no real chance to keep him. Extending Benintendi will cost more than the Royals will pay and he may prefer to play for a contender, not a team mired in what’s either a too-slow rebuild or lingering mediocrity. The club needs to trade him now to realize a decent return.
And his decision to forego vaccination, one that prevented him and nine other teammates from making the recent four-game road trip to Toronto, may push the club closer to a trade. On the other hand, it might not figure heavily into the equation—Benintendi was destined for the trade block regardless. His vaccination status might reduce the field of potential KC trade partners, especially in the American League East, but it won’t eliminate them.
How will fans of the KC Royals remember Andrew Benintendi’s tenure?
Benintendi has played well for the Royals—he’s hitting .292 with a .349 OBP and 20 homers, and has made only three errors (all of them last season) since arriving last year to replace Alex Gordon.
Nevertheless, some undoubtedly have mixed feelings about Benintendi. A trade means his Kansas City stay will have lasted less than two full seasons, hardly enough time for he and fans to form an endearing bond. And because they suspect he’ll soon be gone and are probably steeling themselves already against his impending departure, forgive those who are looking ahead and preparing for another left fielder.
Others may resent him for not vaccinating and consider his not doing so selfish and not in the team’s best interest. For them, the vaccination matter could irrevocably taint his legacy.
His short stay and the vaccination matter won’t be the only factors that might harm Benintendi’s legacy. He’s been burdened by the misfortune of playing for two bad Royals teams, an affliction for which he’s blameless—he and similarly-situated others don’t assemble the teams they play for—but one that can overshadow stellar individual performances and render them less memorable and less appreciated. Chances are good Benintendi’s legacy will suffer some under the cloud of KC’s poor play while he’s been on the roster.
So, in the end, Benintendi will probably be remembered for his competent, capable bat and a near flawless glove. But fans may move on from him quickly, and his short time with the club means he’ll never be in line for the club’s Hall of Fame.
Things might have been different under other circumstances.
Andrew Benintendi will soon be gone from the Royals. What his KC legacy becomes remains to be seen.