What Andrew Benintendi brings to White Sox


General manager Rick Hahn said on more than one occasion this offseason the White Sox’ most impactful moves likely would come via trade than free agency.

But Hahn and Co. turned to the open market for their first major roster addition, Mike Clevinger, and again for their second — landing outfielder Andrew Benintendi on a five-year, $75 million deal, according to reports.

Benintendi, the No. 7 overall pick in 2015 by the Red Sox, spent 2022 with the Royals and Yankees, hitting a combined .304/.373/.399 in 126 games while earning his first All-Star nod. 

The 28-year-old was the top outfielder remaining on the open market and his addition helps address a few of the White Sox’ top offseason needs, starting with left field.

MORE: White Sox land Benintendi on 5-year deal

AJ Pollock, Andrew Vaughn and Eloy Jiménez spent the bulk of time in left for the Sox last season. But Pollock hit free agency last month, and Vaughn will move to first base with José Abreu’s departure to the Astros.

Jiménez, who had a strong second half offensively last season as the DH, seems likely to spend most of his time there in 2023.

Beyond that, Pedro Grifol has stressed since taking over as manager that the White Sox need to improve defensively. Their outfield defense ranked near the bottom of baseball last season, with guys playing out of position on a roster crowded with first baseman/DH types.

Benintendi has been solid in left in his career (2 Defensive Runs Saved in 2022) and won a Gold Glove there in 2021.

Offensively, the White Sox’ lineup has been righty heavy the last few years. While they’ve mashed left-handed pitching, they’ve struggled against righties.

Benintendi has a good track record against right-handers, hitting .286 with an .808 OPS in his career. That includes a .318 average and .812 OPS last season.

RELATED: Benintendi agrees to largest White Sox contract

He also brings a different skill set to the table. Although the White Sox’ power numbers took a dip last season, their lineup is full of sluggers. 

Benintendi has hit for some pop in his career but is known for his bat-to-ball skills. He posted an 81.6 percent contact rate in 2022. Josh Harrison led the White Sox at 81.2 percent.

“Lineup balance is important,” Hahn said at the Winter Meetings this month. “Not just from a strict left-right standpoint, but from production against both left-handed and right-handed pitching. 

“Giving guys sort of with a different skill set in the lineup to help balance out some of the power guys, let's say, that we may have, is of interest.”

Enter Benintendi.

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