The Yankees shelled out three prospects for Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi at the trade deadline. When they lost him to injury midway through their August swoon, it nearly cost them their season — and might’ve doomed the team in the ALCS against Houston.
At the end of the season, the Yankees drew a line in the sand in contract talks with Benintendi, balking at the contract length he was seeking. That said, they clearly pursued him and preferred him to other options internally and externally (though, ultimately, they made the correct choice in prioritizing Carlos Rodón instead).
Benintendi would be a more seamless fit in left field than Aaron Hicks or Oswaldo Cabrera in 2023, but though the Yankees tried to make something work and commit to Benny for the second time in a few months, he ultimately landed a five-year deal in Chicago that satisfied all his desires.
In other words, Chicago wanted him and wanted him for a long time. That must feel good, and expressing those good feelings doesn’t take anything away from the Yankees, who chased him time and again.
Apparently, some members of the New York media disagree with that assessment, and would prefer to believe Benintendi opened his time with the White Sox by striking the Yanks with some body blows. What?
No, Andrew Benintendi did not take a shot at Yankees during White Sox press conference
If you read every quote in sinister glasses, you’re going to walk around assuming a lot of evil that doesn’t exist.
Any athlete message read in a sneering tone sounds nasty, but you really have to jump through some seriously flaming mental hoops to make this Benintendi quote into a backhand slap in the Yankees’ direction:
"“It’s fun to be part of something where you’re desired, where you’re wanted,” said Benintendi, who signed a five-year, $75 million deal with Chicago last month."
That’s it! That’s all it is. That’s … the entire thing quoted by the Post.
The quote actually goes longer, per MLB.com, but doesn’t get any more damning:
"“It’s fun to be part of something where you’re desired, where you’re wanted,” said Benintendi during the press conference. “I’m looking forward to getting to know some guys, build relationships and get this thing going.““From Day 1 in the offseason, there was communication. There was constant interest throughout the entire process. I was talking about it with Petey [Grifol], [general manager] Rick [Hahn] and the rest of the front office. It’s good to be with a team that wanted me from Day 1.”"
Benintendi was, of course, speaking in Chicago to Chicago fans and Chicago media, trying to express his excitement after finding a new home. No one asked about the Yankees, where he spent 33 games pre-injury and was beloved by fans (and chased this offseason by the front office). This was a Chicago question. Chicago wanted him. Chicago got him. He’s happy to be there. End of non-story.
Now, there were reports floated this offseason that, all things being equal, Benintendi preferred the midwest to the big cities on the east coast. That could certainly be true! He opted for the White Sox (and their five years of guaranteed money) when the dust settled.
That said, “Midwest vs. New York” is a lifestyle concern, and it’s hard to fathom “being unwanted in NYC” was an actual part of Benintendi’s calculus. The Yankees went out of their way to acquire him/surrender assets for him. Fans became, some might say, too attached to Benintendi during his brief stint in the Bronx. The Yankees chased him ’til the finish line. Hell, he was so “beloved” here he was penciled into the 2023 lineup and beyond until the day he defected.
The New York Post knew exactly what they were doing by centering their headline about this otherwise innocent pull quote. Now, if Joey Gallo had said this in Minnesota? That’d be an entirely different story.