Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi has reportedly been a target of both the Blue Jays and Yankees in the early stages of the summer trade market, but yesterday’s placement on the restricted list in advance of Kansas City’s trip to Toronto, due to vaccination status, is already having impact on his market. It seemed obvious at the time of that revelation that the Jays would be out of the mix for Benintendi, and Jon Heyman of the New York Post now reports that the Yankees are also unlikely to further pursue the outfielder. Presumably, the same is true of Benintendi’s teammate Michael A. Taylor, who joined him on the restricted list and has also reportedly been considered by the Yankees.
The Yankees are one of two teams (joining the Astros) who have taken a full roster on the road to Toronto this season. They still have three games in Toronto on the schedule in late September, and Blue Jays, currently in possession of the American League’s third Wild Card spot, represent a potential postseason opponent. Certainly, not all contending clubs are going to be dissuaded from pursuing unvaccinated players, but it’s also doubtful the Yankees and Jays will be the only ones taking this stance.
Outfield help is known to be a priority for a Yankees club that watched Aaron Hicks and, to a far greater extent, Joey Gallo struggle for much of the season. Hicks has righted the ship of late, hitting at a very strong .268/.376/.449 batting line over his past 149 trips to the plate, dating back to late May. He’s also gone 4-for-5 in stolen bases during that time, swatted five homers, and added four doubles and a couple triples. (Hicks was helped off the field during last night’s game after fouling a ball into his shin, but thankfully for both him and the team, imaging did not reveal a fracture.)
It’s been another story for Gallo, whom the Yankees would surely like to move over the next 19 days between now and the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Gallo’s .166/.287/.336 batting line is miles away from the .214/.340/.507 slash he posted with the Rangers from 2017 through July 27 of last year, when he was traded to the Bronx. The Yankees surely didn’t expect Gallo to begin hitting for a high average. However, a 50-point drop in his already perennially low mark, combined with an uptick in strikeout rate and decrease in walk rate and power output, has rendered Gallo one of the least-valuable hitters in baseball at the moment. For a 28-year-old hitter still in his prime, it’s a fairly remarkable decline.
Turning the focus back to Benintendi, Heyman further tweets that the Mets, who don’t have a Toronto series on their schedule and would thus only need to worry about a potential World Series matchup there, do have some interest in Benintendi. The Mets have cast a wide net in seeking upgrades, however, and Benintendi is surely just one of many players on their radar as they seek to bolster the roster.
Interest in Benintendi, Taylor and other players who are unable to travel to Toronto will vary from team to team. For the Yankees, it seems a clear and understandable roadblock. Other clubs will feel differently. There’s no denying the adverse effect it has on the Royals, however, due both to the fact that they’ll be without nearly 40% of their big league roster this weekend and to the fact that president of baseball operations Dayton Moore will have fewer interested parties to engage on the trade market.