The Swing Heard 'Round the World
The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms with free-agent outfielder Andrew Benintendi on a five-year contract worth $75 million, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Benintendi joins starting pitcher Mike Clevinger as the second notable free agent signed this winter by the White Sox. His contract, meanwhile, becomes the richest signed by a free-agent in franchise history, surpassing the $73 million agreement fetched by Yasmani Grandal a few years back.
Benintendi, 28, is coming off an All-Star season that doubled as the second most productive of his big-league career, trailing only his 2018 efforts. He batted .304/.373/.399 (120 OPS+) in split duty between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees, homering five times and tallying 3.2 Wins Above Replacement, according to the estimates housed at Baseball Reference.
CBS Sports ranked Benintendi as the 18th best free agent available this winter, writing the following:
Benintendi achieved his best statistical season in years by trading power for contact. That may sound overly simplistic, but sometimes the truth is like that. He set a new career high in both batting average and on-base percentage, and a new career low in slugging percentage. Benintendi's batted-ball profile did shift toward elevating the ball following a midseason trade to the Yankees, and, perhaps predictably, he recorded just seven fewer extra-base hits in pinstripes than he had with the Royals despite appearing in 60 fewer games. Benintendi's season ended prematurely when he fractured his hamate bone in September. He's not everyone's can of LaCroix, but he's a fine most-days corner outfielder, even if he's unlikely to bring the boom often.
Benintendi seems likely to slot in left field for the White Sox, who have Luis Robert stationed in center. The question becomes what, precisely, the White Sox intend to do with right field. They have Gavin Sheets available for platoon duty, and they could at some point turn to prospect Oscar Colas.