Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Potential Solutions To The White Sox Andrew Benintendi Problem

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Andrew Benintendi’s immense struggles are not new, as I had written about them a month and a half ago. Since it was early in the season, I hoped he would turn things around. That has not been the case. He has somehow gotten even worse.

Benintendi’s Awful 2024 Season

According to OPS, Benintendi enters the day as the worst-qualified hitter in all of MLB. He is also the second-worst player in MLB by fWAR, trailing only Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, whom Cubs fans are begging the team to get rid of. Benintendi has not just been bad; he has been awful. He has been so awful that it has reached the point where playing him is actively hurting the team. He does nothing well on the field anymore, and the White Sox must try something to fix this problem. There are a few viable options.

#1 – Phantom IL Stint

The first and most realistic option is to put him on the injured list for now. Benintendi admitted that a hand issue impacted his performance last season, which could still explain why he is still struggling so badly. A short IL stint would give him a mental reset, and perhaps a subsequent minor league rehab assignment would get him back on track. Going this route is a temporary solution, but it is better than continuing to play him daily.

#2 – Decrease His Playing Time

Another option is to decrease his playing time or bench him entirely. Benintendi has not earned a starting spot from a performance perspective. The White Sox outfield situation is not great currently, but they still have several better options than Benintendi. Tommy Pham has been great since he arrived in Chicago. Corey Julks has been productive in a small sample size as well. They can handle center and left field, respectively. Dominic Fletcher is also back on the team, needs consistent at-bats, and can play right field. Gavin Sheets and Eloy Jiménez should not play outfield ideally, but both have experience there. Decreasing Benintendi’s playing time for the time being and giving him mental breathers might help him snap out of this.

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#3 – Cut Bait Entirely

Cutting bait and DFA him entirely right now is also an unlikely but possible outcome. After this season, Benintendi has three years and $49.3 million left on his contract. If history is any indication, Jerry Reinsdorf will cut bait with certain players before their contracts are up. John Danks, Dallas Keuchel, and Leury García are all examples. However, those guys all had fewer years and dollars left on their contracts when the team cut ties with them than Benintendi has right now. There is a logical argument that this is the route the White Sox should take if they were serious about winning, but Reinsdorf eating that much money seems unlikely.

#4 – Bad Contract Swap

Benintendi has one of the worst contracts in baseball and a negative trade value. Nobody is trading anything of value for him, and the White Sox would likely have to eat a significant amount of money just to get someone to take him. But that is another possibility to eradicate their Benintendi problem. Swapping bad contracts with another team is a potential answer as well. However, a deal of this nature is more likely to happen in the offseason.

The Benintendi Conundrum Persists

We are not even a season and a half into Andrew Benintendi’s experience in Chicago, and it has already been worse than I could have ever imagined. The highest-paid player in franchise history is unplayable, and something must be done to address it. The ideas outlined are all viable solutions to some extent, but realistically, I do not have much faith that the White Sox will go any of those routes.

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