On Tuesday, the White Sox officially announced their signing of Andrew Benintendi nearly three weeks after the initial report from ESPN’s Jesse Rodgers on December 16th and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The delay seems to be because Benintendi was on vacation and unable to take his physical until after the new year.
The deal is worth five years and $75 million. It is the largest contract in franchise history. Benintendi will also receive a $3 million signing bonus for the 2023 season. Here’s the breakdown of what the White Sox owe him throughout the course of the deal.
He will make just $8 million during his first year of the deal, allowing the White Sox to pay for the final $18 million of Yasmani Grandal’s contract before he hits free agency. Lucas Giolito is also in his third and final year of arbitration, while Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, and Micheal Kopech are all entering their first year. The backloaded Benintendi contract allows the White Sox a little more financial flexibility for the upcoming season. However, given their history, it will only allow for one more small move if the front office were to add another player.
From 2024-2026 Benintendi will make $16.5 million. He will then be paid $14.5 million during the final year of his contract in 2027. During the announcement, the White Sox revealed that their new left fielder would be sporting the number 23 jersey, previously worn by Vince Velasquez.
Benintendi is a former All-Star, Gold Glove Winner, and World Series Champion. He has a career slash line of .279/.351/.431 and checks many of the boxes the White Sox were looking for. He is an immediate upgrade in left field and adds an impact left-handed bat to the lineup. Benintendi is also a disciplined hitter, ranking in the top 25 percentile of all MLB hitters in strikeout, chase, and whiff rates. He also finished the 2022 season in the 74th percentile in walk rate after drawing 52 free passes.
His signing came as a shock to those who didn’t think the White Sox would raise their payroll. But at $15 million a year, the deal is very fair for a player of Benintendi’s caliber.
Rick Hahn met the media to explain why the front office felt like he was a great fit on the South Side.
“His profile, both offensively and defensively, we thought were great compliments to what we had and what we projected to break the season come opening day,” Hahn said.
“A guy who, obviously not just left-handed but gives you a tough AB, can grind it out, put up solid on-base numbers towards the top of the lineup, as well as improve ourselves from an outfield defense standpoint.”
“He really fits in a lot of different ways that we were looking to improve ourselves on.”
The 28-year-old is coming off an All-Star season after hitting .304/.373/.399 with five home runs and 51 RBIs. He was having a career year in Kansas City, batting .320, before getting traded to New York, where his average plummeted to .254
After getting drafted seventh overall, Benintendi was once considered a top outfield prospect with the Red Sox. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 after hitting a career-high 20 home runs and 90 RBIs. He had another strong season in 2018, batting .290 with 16 home runs and 87 RBIs and eventually helping lead the Red Sox to a World Series. During the postseason, he had four extra-base hits and hit .333 during the World Series.
Benintendi is a Gold Glove winner, and while his defensive metrics don’t jump off the page, Hahn is correct in saying he is a significant upgrade defensively from what the White Sox had last year.
For his career, he has a -16 in Outs Above Average. However, most of the damage came when he was in Boston, having to play left field with the Green Monster looming behind him. It remains one of the more difficult ballparks to play left field in, which explains his -10 OAA in 2019 and -8 mark in 2017. Last season he graded in the 59th percentile in OAA and 52nd percentile in outfield jump.
While the power numbers are concerning ( just 73 home runs in seven years), he hits for average and has some speed. It will make a predominantly right-handed lineup tougher to navigate for opposing pitchers.
This was a good add. Just wish they had also gone after some of the top dogs. And I wish Jerry would sell the team. 2005 looks like a fluke now.