The New York Yankees have a new outfielder (and it's not Juan Soto).
The team traded for Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi on Wednesday, the team announced. Going back to the Royals are pitching prospects Beck Way, Chandler Champlain and T.J. Sikkema.
The New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired OF Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor leaguers RHP Chandler Champlain, LHP T.J. Sikkema and RHP Beck Way.
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) July 28, 2022
Sikkema is ranked as the Yankees' No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline, while Way comes in at No. 21. Champlain is not listed.
One of the few Royals players having a good season this year, Benintendi is hitting .320/.387/.398 with three homers and 40 runs in 92 games. He has played no position other than left field over the past three years, so it's easy to imagine he'll be taking over the position from one of last year's midseason acquisitions, Joey Gallo, who is currently hitting .161.
The trade is a pure rental for the Yankees, as Benintendi is slated to hit free agency this winter.
The move also places Benintendi back in the AL East, where he played five seasons with the Boston Red Sox until the team traded him to Kansas City in 2021 at a low point in his career. Now he's their division rival.
The Red Sox won't be the first familiar face for Benintendi to play. The Yankees open a four-game home series against the Royals on Thursday.
Benintendi says he won't get vaccinated for another Blue Jays series
When Benintendi was one of the 10 Royals players to miss a road series against the Toronto Blue Jays due to their lack of COVID-19 vaccination, it was speculated his status would impact his trade value among AL East teams.
The Yankees clearly didn't mind too much.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Benintendi confirmed he still wasn't vaccinated and hadn't changed his position on the subject.
Andrew Benintendi on his vaccination status/plan: “I’m still positioned in the same spot. I’m open minded about it. I’m not against it. But time will tell.”
Benintendi said that getting vaccinated was not something he had to agree to before getting traded.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 28, 2022
Fortunately for the Yankees, they have only one three-game road series remaining against the Blue Jays this season. Having Benintendi in left field for up to 60 of the Yankees' 63 remaining games is still a significant upgrade from Gallo and other assorted players.
What does this mean for the Yankees and Juan Soto?
The Yankees adding a corner outfielder when they already have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton certainly doesn't bolster the odds they unload a boatload of prospects for the Washington Nationals outfielder everyone is talking about.
Never say never, but the Yankees acquiring Soto this season seems to be a hard sell, even with the designated hitter spot. They could still acquire him in the offseason, though, unless the Nationals make a major about-face.