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MLB Rumors: Yankees FA Andrew Benintendi in Talks with Mets amid Astros Interest

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2022

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 30:  Andrew Benintendi #18 of the New York Yankees in the fourth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 30, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The New York Mets are "among the teams talking" with free-agent outfielder Andrew Benintendi, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Sherman said the Mets' discussions with Benintendi are "an indicator of the club seriously contemplating life without free agent Brandon Nimmo."

The New York Yankees, Houston Astros and "several other clubs" are also pursuing Benintendi, per Sherman.

The 28-year-old hit .304 with five home runs, 51 RBI, 54 runs, eight stolen bases, a .373 on-base percentage and a .772 OPS in 126 games between the Kansas City Royals and Yankees last season, making his first All-Star Game.

The combination of getting on base and stout defense in left field (2021 Gold Glove winner) should make him a highly sought-after player in free agency. His time in New York after a midseason trade was disappointing, however, as a broken bone in his right wrist cut his regular season short and kept him out of the playoffs.

For the Mets, he wouldn't be the most natural addition since the team has Mark Canha available in left field. If Nimmo signs elsewhere and the Mets add Benintendi, that would mean shifting either Canha or Starling Marte into center field.

Marte has more experience playing that position, though as Sherman noted, shifting either player centrally "has never seemed [to be the Mets'] preference for both defensive purposes and wear and tear, particularly on Marte."

However, general manager Billy Eppler has said the Mets would be comfortable moving Marte into center field if needed.

"Can Starling still play center field? Yeah, we believe he can," he said on Sherman and Jon Heyman's podcast The Show in November (h/t Danny Abriano of SNY). "That opens up some optionality for how we ultimately would fill out that outfield. But that being said, it's not a closed case by any stretch of the imagination."

It seems like a contingency the Mets will need to plan for. As SNY noted Monday, "Nimmo's market is robust, with the Mets, Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners and others having been linked to him."

The Mets have also splashed major cash to bring Justin Verlander aboard, which may factor into what they are willing to offer Nimmo:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Justin Verlander’s deal with the Mets is for two years and $86 million, per source. It includes a vesting third-year option. After losing Jacob deGrom, the Mets replace him with the American League Cy Young Award winner, who will be paired atop their rotation with Max Scherzer.

Benintendi would be a logical backup plan as the Mets look to shore up the outfield.