This past Friday, the White Sox signed outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the largest contract in franchise history – a five-year deal worth $75 million. The purpose of this article isn’t to break down whether or not this was a good move by the White Sox. Our Editor-in-Chief Jordan Lazowski already did a great job of that with his recent analysis.
Instead, let’s address the handful of side arguments that have come up since the deal’s announcement.
“As a fan, should I be happy about this signing?”
The answer, you should feel however you want to about the team’s new outfielder. If you like the move, great. If you’re less than enthused, that’s fine as well. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel about a new addition to your favorite team.
Benintendi is a left-handed bat who will likely hit for average and get on base but probably won’t have the best power numbers. More importantly, he’ll bring average to slightly above-average defense to a position that desperately needs it. If you think that’s a complementary fit for this current White Sox roster, be happy about the signing. If you wish the Sox should have acquired someone who brings more power and perhaps better defense, be a little bummed about the acquisition.
You do you.
“Benintendi won’t live up to the hype of this massive contract.”
This isn’t an active argument (yet), but based on how fans treated Yasmani Grandal’s “poor” first half of the 2021 season, I want to get ahead of the curve.
The fact that the largest contract in franchise history is only $75 million speaks volumes about how disappointing the White Sox franchise has been. It shouldn’t necessarily reflect on the player that Benintendi is or will be. After all, he received fair market value considering his age, past performance, and his particular game.
Reportedly, the New York Yankees offered Benintendi four years, $64 million. In the end, he took less AAV (by $1 million) but more money guaranteed overall. Considering New York’s offer and what other players like Avisail Garcia and Mitch Haniger recently received, if the White Sox wanted to add a free-agent outfielder to improve their roster, this contract was the price point of that transaction.
As previously mentioned, Benintendi’s game is strongest when he makes contact, draws walks, and doesn’t play defense that will kill you. He is not on this team to smash 30+ home runs and be an RBI producer in the middle of the line-up. If he ends up doing so, great. However, he’s never been that player throughout his professional career, and it’s unrealistic to expect that of him now that he’s on the South Side.
“Five years feels too long for this deal.”
Though this hasn’t been a reoccurring argument, it’s one that’s appeared nonetheless. As such, let’s address a few things to related this point.
First, it’s not your money. If you are fine with a three- or four-year contract, you should be fine with an additional fifth year. Secondly, as already stated, that’s just where the market was on Benintendi. If the New York Yankees really did offer four years/$64 million, five years/$75 million is basically the next offer up. The White Sox needed an outfielder, and the contract they gave Benintendi is what the market dictated. Part of that cost included a total of five years.
Lastly, the Sox’s current contention window takes a huge hit after 2023. Lucas Giolito will be a free agent and has shown no indication that he will re-sign with the White Sox. Furthermore, the contracts of Lance Lynn, Yasmani Grandal, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, and Mike Clevinger expire at the end of the season.
Additionally, the escalating costs of contracts of players like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, and Luis Robert coinciding with the aforementioned cheapness of Sox management will be a concern to add free agents in the immediate future, as well as creating a World Series contending roster. Depending on how well the Sox can replace three out of five starters in their rotation going into 2024, the window to win may be closing faster than you think.
If you want Benintendi’s talent to help you win now, you can easily live with him for the next five years.
“Great addition, now go sign a second baseman.”
As it stands right now, the White Sox could probably still use an upgrade at second base and even right field. Whether those positions are already on the 40-man roster remains to be seen. Regardless, no team acquires all of their players all at once.
Andrew Benintendi definitely fills a big gap, but let’s have some sense of patience to see what other moves the White Sox make. If we’re well into spring training and inching closer toward the regular season with glaring holes, feel free to voice your concern then. But let’s wait for the ink to dry on the Benintendi contract before we start judging the Sox again for moves you don’t think they are making.
“You shouldn’t enjoy this signing because the front office should have signed Bryce Harper in 2019.”
In itself, this can be broken into two separate arguments:
1.) Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox front office have long been known to be cheap. They have never shown the willingness to pay the big bucks for premiere free agents.
2.) The front office is using the current offseason to attempt to improve the roster right now.
The White Sox had “a seat at the table” while negotiating with Harper and Manny Machado in 2019. It’s a lame excuse the organization parroted to justify negotiating, yet not pulling the trigger, on elite free-agent talent due to their own cheapness. All fans at this point know not to expect to even be in contention for signing a player of the caliber of Harper or Machado or Aaron Judge this offseason. It stinks, and almost nobody enjoys that aspect of rooting for this organization.
That being said, using the Sox’s frugal nature as a roadblock to enjoying the addition of any player who can still help the team feels like a horrible existence in fandom. Being a White Sox fan already has more “downs” than “ups” so it feels like it would be even worse to categorize little victories as losses as well.
If your White Sox fandom includes continuous wallowing in self-hate, then you do you. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be over here enjoying the front office for showing active progress to improve the team.
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