When Red Sox manager Alex Cora left the team prior to last season, his outfield included Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. Today, none of those players are on the Red Sox current roster.
Alex Cora left the Red Sox with an outfield of Benintendi/Bradley Jr./Betts and will have zero of them when he arrives in Fort Myers this week.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 11, 2021
The Red Sox “Killer B’s” have now been replaced by Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero. Boston subtracted Benintendi from its roster last night in a three-team trade sending him to the Royals.
Three years removed from a World Series championship, the Red Sox’s roster has gone through quite the transformation.
Cora wanted to work with Benintendi
The 2020 season was not kind to Benintendi, he hit a mere .103 in 39 at-bats in 14 games before going on the injured list. He would miss the remainder of the season with a rib injury. At the time, unbeknownst to fans this would be Benintendi’s last year in Boston.
The Red Sox re-hired Cora after a disappointing 2020 season where they finished 24-36. They were dead last in the American League East and 16 games behind the Rays.
One priority for Cora is to work with the pitching staff which was horrendous in 2020. The Red Sox had a 5.58 team ERA which was the second worse in the American League. Only the Tigers had q worse team ERA than Boston, which was a 5.63 ERA.
Another priority for Cora? He wanted to work with Benintendi again and get him back to 2018 form.
“The Andrew that we saw in October 2018, right, that’s the Andrew we want,” Cora said to reporters back in December. “I know a lot of people talk about the second half. I don’t think it was that bad. In ’19, talking to him, he tried to make some adjustments as far as hitting the ball in the air. You saw him. He became a little bit stronger. He wasn’t out of shape, actually, he was in great shape. His mindset was a little bit different.”
Team split over Benintendi trade?
As the club remains focused on it’s long-term goals and sustainability, it’ll come at the expense of fan favorites in Boston. During the Red Sox town hall, Bloom and team CEO Sam Kennedy preached about the sustainability.
“Now, we’re in a position where we have a competitive team, we think, in 2021, a chance to be really, really good in the American League East,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully, get to October and surprise people. But we are looking for a sustainable model. That’s something that was very important to Chaim in the interview process.”
Cora would also chime in about his team heading into 2021, “We have a good baseball team,” Cora said. “Good baseball teams win a lot of game. We’re versatile, athletic and deeper than ’19. I go back to ’19, I thought we were short. Last year, obviously, was a tough year for the organization. Going into spring training, we have a lot of options.”
One of those options will be in Kansas City playing at Kauffman Stadium. According to Mass Live’s Chris Cotillo, people within the organization wanted to keep Benintendi and see him bounce back. There is some speculation whether or not Cora is the one that wanted him badly.
I can add this: There were people in the Red Sox organization who were counting on a bounceback year and wanted badly to keep him.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 11, 2021
Cora’s Trade Reaction
Red Sox fans will be left wondering whether or not Cora could have helped straighten out Benintendi again. It’s clear the admiration the skipper had for his left fielder and he seemed committed to getting him right on the field.
“I don’t want Andrew, just to say a number, to hit 35 or 40 home runs,” Cora said back in December when asked about Benintendi. “It doesn’t matter. I want him to get on base, be fast on the basepaths, steal bases, play better defense the way he played in October. If we get that guy back, we’re in a good position. I’ve been saying all along in our meetings and to the media, I want our group to get back to playing fast. It seems they were one step behind last year as a unit, and we need to be better. The communication has been there.”
He would add, “I’m a big fan of Andrew, I know he gives his best, but we need him to get back to stay level in the strike zone, drive the ball all over the field, run around, and be a complete player. I don’t want him to be one-dimensional.”
Unfortunately now, Benintendi will need to get back on track in Kansas City under the guidance of manager Mike Matheny. Despite losing a familiar face in Benintendi, the Red Sox added a powerful bat in Cordero that could reach his potential at Fenway Park.
On the one-year anniversary of the Mookie Betts trade, Bloom dealt Benintendi and he better hope he nailed the return. These are no longer your 2018 Boston Red Sox.
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– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)