Outfielder Andrew Benintendi has won his arbitration hearing against the Royals, according to Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star. Benintendi will rake in a 2022 salary of $8.5MM, a good bit greater than the team’s submitted arbitration figure of $7.3MM.
While either arbitration figure represents a life-changing amount of money, Benintendi and his camp had a strong platform campaign that certainly helped tip the scales in their favor. Through 134 contests last season the left-handed hitter posted a trade-validating .276/.324/.442 (105 OPS+) slash line with 17 home runs and Gold Glove-winning defense. Last year’s performance didn’t quite reach the heights many expected of Benintendi based on his early days in Boston, but it reversed a number of worrying trends that were displayed during a dismal 14-game stint in 2020.
With this 2022 salary locked in, Benintendi’s camp can now turn their attention to securing his next big payday at the end of the season, when he’s slated to reach free agency for the first time. Following the initial trade that brought Benintendi to Kansas City, it seemed as if the team might try and secure the rights to their newest acquisition on a team-friendly extension. Instead, the 27-year-old now looks primed to be a trade candidate more than anything owing to the team’s lagging record and his high-contact .314/.368/.381 (123 OPS+) start to the season.
Turning to the Royals’ side of the hearing, Worthy interestingly notes that this is the first time since president of baseball operations Dayton Moore was hired in 2006 that the club has lost in arbitration. Infielder Nicky Lopez, who is in his first arbitration year, is the only remaining Royal awaiting an arbitration hearing.