Yankees get OF Benintendi from Royals for 3 minor leaguers

Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees acquired All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals for three minor league pitchers in what could be the first in a flurry of moves ahead of next week’s trade deadline.

The AL East leaders sent right-handers Chandler Champlain and Beck Way to the Royals along with left-hander T.J. Sikkema.

A 28-year-old left-handed hitter, Benintendi was among 10 Royals who missed a four-game series at Toronto from July 14-17 because he was not vaccinated. Benintendi lost $186,813 of the $8.5 million salary he won in an arbitration case against the Royals.

New York believes he is amenable to getting vaccinated. No Yankees missed earlier trips to Toronto this season, and the Yankees have a three-game series there from Sept. 26-28.

Benintendi is hitting .320 with three homers, 39 RBIs and a .788 OPS. He won a Gold Glove in left field last year, and he hasn’t made an error this season, earning his first All-Star selection.

Benintendi, who is eligible for free agency after this season, gives the Yankees another outfield option alongside Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks.

Giancarlo Stanton, who has played 38 games in the outfield. is expected to miss at least two-to-three weeks after going on the injured list this week with left Achilles tendinitis. Joey Gallo is hitting .161 with 103 strikeouts in 230 at-bats, becoming a frequent target of fan boos.

New York has increasingly used 36-year-old Matt Carpenter in the outfield, where he had not played since 2014.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone disputed the notion that the Yankees have too many power hitters in their lineup. Benintendi should improve a team that is batting .214 left-handed and .258 right-handed.

“We’ve got savages in the lineup, and really good hitters. Benitendi’s a great hitter, gets on base at a really high clip, hits from the left side, so, yeah, gives you some balance,” Boone said after Wedesday night’s 3-2 loss at the Mets and just before the trade was announced.

“So if we get him, that’s another really good big league hitter to add to the mix that’s going to lengthen out a lineup and potentially give you that balance you look for. So if we get him, I’ll be excited to write his name in,” he said.

On Wednesday, Benintendi went 1 for 4 in Kansas City’s 4-0 loss to the Angels. On Thursday night, the Royals open a series at Yankee Stadium.

Benintendi has a .261 average with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 30 games at Yankee Stadium. He finished second to Judge in 2017 AL Rookie of the Year voting and won a World Series title with Boston the following year.

“It will be definitely a big piece to what we got going on here … Any time you bring him into this type of culture we got, it’s always a plus and kind of a boost of energy,” Judge said. “Adding a guy like that will definitely give us a little pump up, that’s for sure. And I think he’s going to fit right in.”

Champlain, 23, was a ninth-round draft pick last year and was 2-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 15 starts and one relief appearance at Class A Tampa.

Sikkema, 24, was taken in competitive balance round A of the 2019 draft and was 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance at Class A Hudson Valley.

Way, 22, was a fourth-round pick two years ago and was 5-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 15 starts at Hudson Valley.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.