The New York Yankees are expected to be busy before the MLB trade deadline with the front office focused on improving the outfield. While Kansas City Royals star Andrew Benintendi once seemed like the perfect target, he is reportedly now off the team’s radar completely.
Benintendi entered early July with massive demand for his services. One of the best hitters in baseball this season, the 28-year-old outfielder is generating overwhelming interest. Recently named to his first MLB All-Star Game, the Royals’ top trade chip suffered a massive blow to his value on Wednesday.
- Andrew Benintendi stats (2022): .317/.386/.401, 37 runs scored, .786 OPS
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Shortly before the team left for its trip to face the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada, the Royals announced that Benintendi was among 10 players not making the trip. He, along with fellow trade candidate Whit Merrifield, is unvaccinated and can’t cross the border into Canada.
Many expected it to deliver a significant blow to the number of teams interested in acquiring Benintendi. Any MLB postseason contenders might have to travel to Toronto for a playoff series and Benintendi wouldn’t be permitted to play. It now appears Benintendi’s market is taking a hit.
According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, the Yankees are now unlikely to pursue Benintendi after learning that he is unvaccinated. Because of his current status, he is ineligible to play any games in Toronto against the Blue Jays.
He isn’t the only Royals outfielder New York expressed interest in acquiring. Michael A. Taylor, an outstanding defender in center field, was reportedly on the Yankees’ radar as a more affordable alternative to Benintendi. However, Taylor is also unvaccinated and will likely be off New York’s list of trade targets.
While there could still be time for Benintendi to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, it remains unclear if he’s willing to do that just to play for a contender. If he isn’t, it’s possible that very few buyers at the trade deadline are willing to trade something substantial for a player whose decision might sideline him in a postseason series.
Notably, the Blue Jays are also impacted by this. Toronto isn’t allowed to acquire any unvaccinated player and there are a significant number of them in MLB. The same rule also applies for nonresidents entering the United States, too.
While MLB teams are prioritizing talent heading into the trade deadline, the vaccination status of players available will have a significant influence on what moves are made.