BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox sent Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday in a three-team trade that also included the New York Mets, parting with the final member of the outfield trio that helped Boston win the 2018 World Series.
The Red Sox traded Benintendi along with an unspecified amount of cash to the Royals for outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later. Boston also received minor league right-handed pitcher Josh Winckowski and a player to be named later from the Mets. The Mets received outfield prospect Khalil Lee from the Royals.
“For our fans, this is not the first time in the last year they’ve seen an important player leave,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters in a conference call late Wednesday night after the deal was announced. “I know it’s tough. I know it’s painful.”
Benintendi, 26, led all players with 15 runs during Boston’s 2018 postseason run, when he joined Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the Red Sox outfield. Betts, who was the American League MVP that season, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a salary dump last spring, and Bradley is a free agent who remains unsigned.
“I wouldn’t have predicted it, but we are where we are,” Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran said.
Bloom has said that Bradley could still return under the right deal.
“We remain hopeful we will be able to find a fit with Jackie,” Bloom said, “and also recognize that might not happen.”
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Benintendi was second in AL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2017. He batted .290 with 16 homers and 87 RBIs while helping Boston win a franchise-record 108 regular-season games and the World Series in 2018.
But his numbers dropped off a little the next year and a lot in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he batted only .103. He also played only 14 games, landing on the injured list Aug. 12 because of a strained right rib cage, with the Red Sox later ruling him out for the year.
In all, he batted .273 with 51 home runs, 260 RBIs and 53 stolen bases for Boston; his 32 outfield assists are the most in baseball over the past four years.
Bloom said he had faith Benintendi would bounce back.
“Andrew’s coming off two years that he was capable of more than he showed on the field,” he said. “Last year I was optimistic about Andrew, and I still am.”
He has one year remaining on a two-year, $10 million deal reached in February 2020 before he becomes eligible for arbitration in 2022 and a free agent in 2023.
Cordero, 26, was limited to 16 games in 2020 because of injuries, hitting .211 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 38 plate appearances after being acquired from the San Diego Padres. He is a career .236 hitter with 12 homers in 95 games, and can play all three outfield positions.
Winckowski, 22, was ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Mets’ system by Baseball America. He was a 15th-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. He was the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year and a postseason All-Star while with Class A Vancouver in 2018. He reached Advanced A ball in 2019 and has a 3.35 ERA and 1.297 WHIP in the minors.
Lee was drafted by the Royals in the third round in 2016 and was named a Baseball America Rookie All-Star for his play that year in rookie ball. He reached Double-A in 2018 and 2019, and played in the Puerto Rican Winter League the past two years. He has a .256 average in the minor leagues with 37 home runs and 192 RBIs in 1,719 plate appearances.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.