I almost had a fucking heart attack that day. It came together so fast, I thought my brain was going to explode.
I had this whole blog written out about how the Washington Nationals had clearly been the more aggressive team in the pursuit of Chris Sale, how it seemed like it was only a matter of time before he’d be headed to DC, and that it seemed like Boston’s efforts were too little, too late. I mean, the “Nationals are the front runners for Sale” tweets had been going strong for about 24 hours, and the tweets about the Red Sox jumping back in on the Sale sweepstakes in an aggressive manner really had only been out there for about 45 minutes. Next thing you know, boom, Sale’s coming to Boston. What the fuck happened?
The second I saw this tweet, I was the definition of that Mr. Krabs meme. So shook. My brain was trying to process that Chris Sale was now on the Red Sox, Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech were headed to Chicago, and the most brain-frying part of it all was the “and two other prospects” part of Ken Rosenthal’s tweet. Who the fuck were these prospects? It didn’t feel like it to Red Sox fans, because he had performed so well, and he’s such a polished player already, but Andrew Benintendi is/was still considered a “prospect” at that point. The No. 1 prospect in baseball, actually.
There’s no fucking way that the Red Sox traded Moncada AND Benintendi, right? During the Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington Eras here in Boston, I would’ve been a thousand percent sure that there was no chance at all that the Red Sox traded both. During the Dave Dombrowski Era, though, I wasn’t so sure. After all, we learned that the price tag for Sale at the trade deadline this past summer was astronomically high, and would’ve required names like Benintendi and eventual MVP runner-up Mookie Betts to complete a deal, so it wasn’t inconceivable to think that the final agreement to actually acquire Sale could have potentially included both Moncada and Benintendi.
As we know now, the Red Sox were able to acquire Sale without coughing up Benintendi. But how close did the 22-year-old outfielder come to being included in that trade? According to Benintendi himself, pretty fucking close.
“My agent texted me and said, ‘You’re either going to go or not in the next two minutes,'” Benintendi recalled here at the Red Sox spring training complex. “So I was just like, ‘OK, there’s not much I can do. So after that two minutes went up, I saw everything on Twitter and people were texting me. It was a big move for both sides.”
Players being involved in trade discussions without knowing it happens quite frequently. Sometimes they end up being included in the trade, and sometimes they don’t. It’s part of the business. But for an agent to actually reach out to a player like that and give them the heads up that shit might be going down, it had to have been a REAL, legitimate possibility that Benintendi was going to Chicago.
No doubt, giving up both Moncada and Kopech hurts. Albeit being a very much unfinished product, Moncada is one of the best young players in the world, and Kopech can throw a billion miles an hour. But as I said before, Benintendi is the most polished player of that group with the most well-rounded skill set. And while acquiring Sale makes the Red Sox instant World Series contenders, being able to hang onto Benintendi on top of that only strengthens their chances.
UPDATE: Now that this story is making the rounds, Dombrowski is denying that they ever came close to trading Benintendi. This is obviously bullshit, but I’m not gonna rip on Dombrowski for lying straight to my face, because the most important thing is that the Red Sox didn’t trade Benintendi. That’s all the truth I need.