The New York Yankees made the first of what could be a flurry of moves ahead of next week’s trade deadline, acquiring All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals, it was announced on Wednesday night.
The Yankees are sending three minor league pitching prospects to the Royals in exchange for the 28-year-old Benintendi: right-hander Beck Way, right-hander Chandler Champlain and left-hander TJ Sikkema.
The left-handed hitting Benintendi was named for his first career MLB All-Star Game this season. Through Wednesday, he’s batting a career-best .320 with three home runs and 39 RBIs and a .788 OPS in 93 games this season.
Benintendi, who is eligible for free agency after this season, gives the Yankees another outfield option alongside Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks.
Giancarlo Stanton, who has played 38 games in the outfield. is expected to miss at least two-to-three weeks after going on the injured list this week with left Achilles tendinitis. Joey Gallo is hitting .161 with 103 strikeouts in 230 at-bats, becoming a frequent target of fan boos.
New York has increasingly used 36-year-old Matt Carpenter in the outfield, where he had not played since 2014.
“Benintendi is a great hitter,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Mets and before the trade was announced. “Gets on base at a really high clip. Hits from the left side so, yeah, gives you some balance.”
Last season, Benintendi hit .276 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs, earning a Gold Glove in his first season with the Royals. He was acquired by Kansas City from the Boston Red Sox in February 2021 as part of a three-team trade that also involved the Mets.
“He’s a really good player,” Judge said. “I had a chance to play against him for quite a few years when he was playing over in Boston, and I’ve seen him do a lot of impressive things. … He’ll definitely be a big piece of what we got going on here.”
Judge added: “I think adding a guy like that would definitely give us a little bump up, that’s for sure. And I think he’s gonna fit right in.”
Benintendi has a .261 average with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 30 career games at Yankee Stadium. He finished second to Judge in 2017 AL Rookie of the Year voting and won a World Series title with Boston the following year.
Benintendi was one of 10 players on the Royals who didn’t travel to Toronto in mid-July for a four-game series with the Blue Jays because they hadn’t received the COVID-19 vaccination. He lost $186,813 of the $8.5 million salary he won in an arbitration case against the Royals.
New York believes he is amenable to getting vaccinated. No Yankees missed earlier trips to Toronto this season, and the Yankees have a three-game series there from Sept. 26 to 28.
“For me, it was a personal decision,” Benintendi said earlier this month about the vaccine. “And I’m going to leave it at that.”
Champlain, 23, was a ninth-round draft pick last year and was 2-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 15 starts and one relief appearance at Class A Tampa.
Sikkema, 24, was taken in competitive balance round A of the 2019 draft and was 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance at Class A Hudson Valley.
Way, 22, was a fourth-round pick two years ago and was 5-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 15 starts at Hudson Valley.
On Thursday night, the Royals open a series at Yankee Stadium.
ESPN’s Marly Rivera and The Associated Press contributed to this report.