Kansas City Royals’ Benintendi not sweating the trade deadline, things he can’t control

·4 min read

It only looks like Kansas City Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi has remained oblivious to trade speculation and the potential of swapping teams in the next month. He’s not. He’s just become adept at making his game impervious to outside distractions.

Not so long ago, remember, he was traded away from the Boston Red Sox, the club where he started his career, won a World Series and established himself as one of the best young outfielders in the game.

How did he respond? He raked at the plate and played Gold Glove defense for the Royals.

“I think it goes back to there’s only so much you can control,” Benintendi said before Sunday’s series finale in Detroit. “I mean, I feel like when I was younger and when I first came up, I’d try to control a lot more than what I was capable of, and that would lead to worrying about stuff that didn’t really matter. I just think less is more. ...

“The only thing I can control is showing up and doing my work. Everything else is what it is and don’t worry about it too much.”

This spring, Benintendi was one of the few players in the majors who went through the unprecedented situation of having multi-hour arbitration hearings during the season on the same day he played a game.

Through it all, he continued to play at a high level. He also earned himself a nice little pay bump by winning his arbitration case and an $8.5 million salary for 2022.

Now, with it almost a forgone conclusion that he’ll be a big trade chip for the Royals to cash in before the Aug. 2 trade deadline, he has continued to rake and play that Gold Glove defense.

“He’s just an old-school throwback grinder, not getting too distracted by noise, positive or negative,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said.

Matheny lauded Benintendi as an example of a player, in a contract year with free agency on the horizon, being able to recognize the system that’s in place and the way that statistics drive compensation while also being a great teammate and work toward winning games.

“That stuff is there on his mind as much as everybody else, but somehow he’s able to separate it and block it,” Matheny said. “‘Nope. I’m going to go lock into the competition. What do I got to do to help us win? Me and him head-to-head.’ It’s been really impressive to watch.”

Benintendi collected two more hits and an RBI in Sunday’s series-clinching win over the Detroit Tigers. He entered Monday tied for the second-most multi-hit games in the AL (27), and he also ranked fourth in hits (88) and seventh in batting average (.308).

He has now reached base safely in 45 of his last 50 games, and he has reached base safely multiple times in each of his last six games.

Benintendi won his first Gold Glove last season after taking over for Royals defensive stalwart and franchise cornerstone Alex Gordon in left field.

This season, Benintendi led all left fielders in the majors in ultimate zone rating, rated sixth among that group in both defensive runs saved (third in the AL) and defensive runs above average (third in the AL).

Again, he’s actually not oblivious to the trade rumors or the circumstances that make it likely. He only seems like he is because he has learned to handle it so well. Experience plays a big factor in that.

“I think you’re familiar with things that go on because you see it almost every year with someone at some point,” Benintendi said. “At this point in my career, I feel like you have seen most of it.”

With Benintendi set to become a free agent at the end of this season, and the Royals 19 games under .500 on the Fourth of July, it makes sense that KC would look to acquire players the club could have under team control for a longer period of time instead of losing him at the end of this season and getting nothing in return.

Benintendi is as ready as anyone can be if a deal comes together before the deadline. He’s already touched base with general manager J.J. Picollo about the possibility.

“I’ve had a conversation with J.J., and I’m almost sure that they’ll keep me in the loop which is nice,” Benintendi said. “Obviously, you don’t want to be blindsided by anything. It’s a drastic move all within a span of 24 hours. So whatever happens, happens. I just try not to even think about it and take it a day at a time.”