The dynamic of the Yankees lineup changed when they acquired Andrew Benintendi from the Royals. The 27-year-old added a new element that the Bombers had been missing for several years — a high-contact left-handed bat.
Benintendi got off to a rough start with the Yanks as he slashed .192/.302/.301 in his first 22 games. However, over his final 11 games, he posted a slash line of .366/.386/.585 while flashing the leather in left and making plays with his legs on the base paths.
The left fielder’s final stretch with the Yanks — and the glaring hole he left after the hamate injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the season — shows why he should be a priority.
The outfield market outside of Aaron Judge is tricky and the Yanks have a spot to fill in left — assuming Judge returns. Mets’ Brandon Nimmo figures to command more dollars than anyone anticipated and it can be argued that Benintendi remains a better fit for the Bombers as a more contact-oriented bat. Benintendi should command a decent-sized payday however, nothing that figures to come close to Nimmo’s projected contract.
The other rumored Yankee target is Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida. Yoshida posted an impressive .336/.449/.559 line with 21 homers in 121 games in Japan. However, as recent Japanese players such as Yoshi Tsutsugo and Seya Suziki have showed, there is a bit of an unknown there.
Brian Cashman and the Yankees are not in a position to take gambles. They are in desparate need of bolstering their lineup with contact-first bats after the Astros decimated them with strikeouts. DJ LeMahieu’s toe injury still remains an unknown as Cashman alluded to the fact that surgery could still be on the table as they still don’t have a clear answer.
Without the guarantee of a healthy LeMahieu, the Yanks would find themselves in a similar lineup construction to the one they saw in the ALCS. They faced off against a dominant Astros staff without a sustainable leadoff hitter which led to the lineup being shuffled on a nightly basis.
Bringing Benintendi back into the fold would provide a sense of relief and comfort as you know what you will be getting out of him — high average, low power and great defense. There likely would be little hesitation to pencil him atop the lineup on opening day of next season.
Counting on Yoshida to bring a new dynamic to your lineup without any guarantee of success in the MLB or splurging on Nimmo would provide a sense of uncertainty at a time where the Yankees don’t need any of it.
Benintendi showed how different the Yanks look with a player like him in their lineup. Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner must keep the left fielder atop their wishlist.