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Piece by piece, the slow teardown of the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox continues.
Exactly a year after trading Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, the Red Sox sent another fan favorite, Andrew Benintendi, to the Royals on Wednesday night as part of a three-team swap that also included the Mets. The popular and talented outfield that led them to a ring is now all but gone.
And while the money they saved by dumping Benintendi could theoretically be used to bring back center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., it doesn’t sound like the Red Sox are planning on it, further marking the end of an era in Boston.
“I know for our fans, this is not the first time in the last year-plus that they have seen a player that is important to them and important to the organization leave,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters Wednesday night, referring to Betts and Benintendi. “I know that’s tough. I know that’s painful. We’re obviously doing what we think is right for the organization.
“[But] we felt we were able to address a number of needs. It puts us on good enough footing going forward that it was worth swallowing hard and taking that painful step of trading a player who’s really important to us and very talented.”
The Red Sox got back toolsy 26-year-old outfielder Franchy Cordero, who has 12 home runs and 110 strikeouts in 315 major league plate appearances with the Royals and Padres, and pitching prospect Josh Winckowski from the Mets. They are also set to get two players to be named later from Kansas City and one from New York.
Benintendi, the former No. 1 prospect in baseball, looked like a star in the making on the Red Sox’s road to the World Series. In 2018 he hit .290 with 16 home runs, 21 steals and an .830 OPS. But he cooled off in 2019, hitting .266 with a .774 OPS before a brutal 2020, in which he went 4-for-39 (.103) in 14 games before being shut down with a rib cage strain.
While Benintendi and Betts are officially gone, Bloom said the Red Sox were “hopeful” they could find a deal with Bradley, but “we also recognize that may not happen.” As currently constructed, the Red Sox’s 2021 outfield would belong to Cordero, Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe.
Missing out on Bradley would also mean a full clean house from the outfield that brought them a title in 2018.
“I wouldn’t have predicted it,” general manager Brian O’Halloran told reporters. “But we are where we are and as we’ve gone along, as Chaim has talked about both following the Mookie Betts trade and again here tonight, we try to make moves that we think make sense for the club in our big-picture goals while we try to . . . compete for a championship every year.”
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