While we know the Yankees have significant interest in superstar Juan Soto, the odds of a deal are long enough that New York has to explore other potential upgrades as well. The latest report pegs the Yankees to be “serious contenders” for Royals’ outfielder Andrew Benintendi, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
The Yankees currently have the highest-producing outfield in the Majors by the measure of fWAR, but the group has been buoyed by Aaron Judge’s MVP-type season. An addition could help secure the club against the possibility of injury heading into the postseason. A left-handed outfielder bat would also help to balance a lineup that leans to the right.
Given the struggles of Joey Gallo (88 wRC+), acquiring Benintendi wouldn’t necessarily take the Yankees out of the running for Soto, though that situation is hardly worth a consideration until the Yankees have at least one of the outfielders in hand. Furthermore, the Yankees could simply stick with Aaron Hicks, who has turned it around to post a 110 wRC+ on the year. Hicks has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, so the Yankees might simply be seeking further depth in the outfield to protect against the worst-case scenario.
With the Royals out of the race and Benintendi heading towards free agency, he should be a relatively low-cost addition for some contender this trade season. Even considering his strong season (128 wRC+), acquiring Benintendi would cost only a shade of what it would take to acquire Soto.
Of course, it wasn’t long ago that reports had the Yankees out on Benintendi because of his vaccination status. The Yankees only have three games remaining in Toronto, however, so it wouldn’t necessarily become an issue until possibly the postseason.