The latter is based on Boston's connection with Bucs general manager Ben Cherington, who was the executive vice president and general manager of the Red Sox from 2011-15 and had served a number of roles in the organization dating back to 1999.
Jim Bowden of CBS Sports reported Saturday that Boston was looking for prospects in exchange for Benintendi, with an emphasis on young outfielders or pitchers.
The 26-year-old had a rough 2020 season, hitting just .103 with an RBI and four runs in 14 games and 52 plate appearances. It was a far cry from the player who had 20 homers, 20 stolen bases and 90 RBI in 2017 or the one who hit .290 with 16 dingers, 87 RBI, 21 stolen bases and 103 runs in 2018.
The Cincinnati native went from being a young core player for the Red Sox to one who is clearly no longer in the team's long-term plans, though it's hard to imagine Boston getting back the haul of prospects they might like for a player coming off a lost season.
Boston's counterargument might be that Benintendi is under club control for two full seasons, but that argument holds less merit if teams aren't convinced the 2018 Benintendi will return.
The Red Sox, who might also lose center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in free agency, is going to need to address its outfield in a serious way if Benintendi and Bradley depart. The better move than selling low on Benintendi might be to hope for a resurgent season in 2021.