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Report: Former Yankees OF Andrew Benintendi, White Sox Agree to 5-Year, $75M Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28: Andrew Benintendi #18 of the New York Yankees runs off the field against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Yankee Stadium on July 28, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Veteran outfielder Andrew Benintendi has agreed to a five-year, $75 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

ESPN's Jesse Rogers first reported the deal.

The 28-year-old played four months with the Kansas City Royals last season before the New York Yankees acquired him July 27. His performance at the plate yielded a mixed bag.

In 126 games, Benintendi hit five home runs β€”a career low over a full 162-game season β€”and saw his isolated power fall from .166 in 2021 to .095, per FanGraphs.

While the power production wasn't present, he set personal bests for batting average (.304) and on-base percentage (.373) while posting a wOBA (.342) above his career average (.337).

Although Benintendi made the All-Star team for the first time, it reflected the dearth of alternatives on the Royals rather than his value on the field.

He set the bar high when he got his start in MLB with the Boston Red Sox. He was the runner-up to Aaron Judge in 2017 American League Rookie of the Year voting and followed up by posting a .290/366/.465 slash line while playing plus defense in 2018. His 4.9 WAR ranked 18th among position players, per FanGraphs.

The 2015 first-round pick has since failed to match that level, and he may struggle to carry his numbers from 2022 over to 2023.

He outperformed his expected batting average (.273), per Baseball Savant, and his .352 BABIP was the seventh-highest among hitters with at least 500 plate appearances, according to FanGraphs.

However, Benintendi owed his success partially to a change in his mindset in the batter's box. He explained to The Athletic's Eno Sarris and Zach Buchanan how he learned to play to his strengths:

"My approach right now is realizing I'm not going to hit 35 homers. It's getting on base, be a tough out, see pitches, use the whole field. This year, it's finally come together. Playing in Kauffman Stadium, too, it's not easy to hit a ball out of there. Just spraying the ball all over the field. It was more just approach, trying to go straight right field, and then you're susceptible to an off-speed pitch. I'm trying to go straight up the middle and if you're early, you're early. If you're late, you've still got the left field line."

He struck out at his lowest rate ever (14.8 percent) and altered where he was depositing the ball off the bat. He had his fewest percentage of balls in play to right field (30.5 percent) and his highest percentage to center field (41.0 percent).

Although Benintendi will probably never hit the elite tier it seemed he might approach after 2018, he has adapted to become a steady hitter who capably patrols the outfield.

His addition won't transform Chicago's offense, but it addresses a clear need.

Benintendi will replace AJ Pollock, the 35-year-old who played most of the season in left field before hitting free agency. The White Sox add a younger option at the position and a solid hitter to help fill the void left by JosΓ© Abreu.