The New York Yankees got an early start on the trade season by acquiring Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals.
Moments after the Yankees' 3-2 walk-off loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, the team announced they sent minor league pitchers Chandler Champlain, T.J. Sikkema and Beck Way to Kansas City in exchange for the All-Star outfielder.
Benintendi is in the midst of arguably his best season in the big leagues. The 28-year-old has a .320/.387/.398 slash line with 19 extra-base hits and 39 RBI in 347 at-bats.
Factoring in the remaining $3.2 million salary Benintendi is owed this season, Spotrac estimates the Yankees' payroll is at $254 million. Factoring in luxury-tax allocations, their total roster spending is at $266.1 million.
Yankees' Projected Lineup
1. DJ LeMahieu, 3B
2. Aaron Judge, CF
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH (currently on 10-day IL)
5. Andrew Benintendi, LF
6. Gleyber Torres, 2B
7. Matt Carpenter, RF
8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS
9. Jose Trevino, C
Aaron Boone has the type of problem that every manager in Major League Baseball would like to have. The Yankees have more players than they do starting spots available to fit them all in.
Giancarlo Stanton's Achilles injury that landed him on the injured list this week does make filling out the lineup card a little bit easier.
When Stanton returns, the picture gets a little more cloudy. Aaron Judge has hit primarily out of the second spot this season. There's no reason to mess with something that has worked.
Benintendi and LeMahieu could split leadoff duties since they both get on base in more than 38 percent of their at-bats. Whichever one isn't heading leadoff could potentially slot in at the No. 4 or 5 spot in the order.
Neither one has hit for much power this season, though Benintendi's power output could increase as he goes from playing home games at spacious Kauffman Stadium to the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
Stanton, Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson are low-average hitters. Rizzo has the best combination of on-base skill and power among that trio to hit directly behind Judge. Stanton's power is good enough to keep him in the cleanup spot when he returns from the IL.
Gleyber Torres has bounced around the lineup all year. He's currently settled in at the cleanup spot, but that could change when Stanton returns.
The combination of Josh Donaldson and Matt Carpenter will hold things down in the seventh spot. If Carpenter somehow keeps up his current pace with an 1.194 OPS, he will almost certainly work his way up in the lineup.
The eighth and ninth spot will continue to be occupied by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino. They are in the starting lineup for their defense, though Trevino has been a pleasant surprise offensively with a 106 OPS+ in 187 at-bats.
Yankees Farm System
The cost to acquire Benintendi didn't put much of a dent in New York's farm system. MLB.com had Sikkema and Way ranked No. 19 and 21 on the Yankees' top-30 prospect list prior to the deal. Champlain didn't even crack the top 30.
All three pitchers are in Single-A and should be at least two years away from reaching the big leagues.
Sikkema missed the entire 2021 season with shoulder and lat injuries. The left-hander has shown good ability in High-A with a 2.48 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 36.1 innings, but he just turned 24.
MLB.com noted Way could end up as a reliever because of a lack of command and control. He has 80 strikeouts and 26 walks in 72.1 innings over 15 starts at High-A. Champlain, 23, has 94 strikeouts and 4.30 ERA in 73.1 innings this season.
Shortstop Anthony Volpe remains the crown jewel of New York's farm system, but there's plenty of exciting talent with him at the top. Oswald Peraza, Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells were top-100 prospects coming into the season, per MLB.com.
Volpe, 21, has spent the entire season at Double-A with the Somerset Patriots. He has a .252/.349/.460 slash line with 13 homers and 37 stolen bases in 81 games. Dominguez, who got a $5.1 million signing bonus in 2019, has an .824 OPS in 80 games across two levels.
Peraza is on the verge of reaching the big leagues. The 22-year-old shortstop has spent all season in Triple-A and has posted a solid .258/.329/.446 slash line with 13 homers and 24 stolen bases in 73 games.
If the Yankees decide to make a serious play for Juan Soto, it seems likely that at least two of those three top prospects would have to be included for the Washington Nationals to part ways with their 23-year-old All-Star.
They don't have a loaded farm system in the same way that a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers or Tampa Bay Rays does, but the very top of their prospect list can stand alongside any team in MLB.