NEW YORK — Around this time last year, sound effects and bright screens filled a charter flight from Tampa to Miami, with gossip filtering throughout the cabin that the Yankees were acquiring Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs . The move provided a welcome spark, prompting celebration in the aisles.
Rizzo and his teammates were in a quiet visiting club at Citi Field on Wednesday night when they learned another deal was in the works, one they hope will similarly boost their playoff chances. Shortly after a 3-2 loss to the Mets, the Yanks finalized a week trade with the Royals for outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
The Yankees get: BY Andrew Benintendi
Members of the Royal Family get: RHP Chandler Champlain, LHP TJ Sikkema and RHP Beck Way
“He’s a really good player,” outfielder Aaron Judge said. “I had the chance to play against him for several years when he was playing in Boston. I’ve seen him do a lot of awesome things. So if that’s true, that’s definitely going to be a big chunk of what we have here.
In the deal, confirmed by both clubs later that night, the Yankees sent three pitching prospects to Kansas City in exchange for 28-year-old Benintendi: right-hander Chandler Champlain, left-hander TJ Sikkema and right-hander Beck Way. .
Acquiring Benintendi helped ease the sting of a loss to the Mets, when Starling Marte hit Wandy Peralta sealed a two-game Subway Series sweep.
“He’s a really good player in the middle of an All-Star season,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He has a track record of success with the  Race to the Red Sox Championship. Obviously he was a very good player for them, but he’s having a very good year for the Royals right now.
Silenced by birthday boy Max Scherzer for seven innings, Gleyber Torres’ two-run homer against David Peterson represented the Yanks’ offense on Wednesday as New York went 0-for-15 with runners in position to goalscorer in both games at Queens.
Boone said he thinks left-handed hitter Benintendi, an American League All-Star this season, can help improve an already formidable order.
“It’s fake news that we have too many power hitters in the lineup, too many sluggers,” Boone said. “We have some savages in the lineup, very good hitters. Benintendi is a great hitter, gets on the base at a very high clip, hits from the left side which gives you some balance. … I will be happy to write his name.
In 93 games this season, Benintendi hit .320/.387/.398 with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 39 RBIs and four stolen bases. Benintendi’s 34 games with multiple hits ranks first in the American League, while he’s third in batting average, tied for second in hits (111) and sixth in on-base percentage.
“Scorching summer days, we’ve been grinding it for a while and then you add a piece like that,” Judge said. “A guy who hit well over .300 all year, played great defense and was kind of a spark plug over there in Kansas City. Every time you bring it into the type of culture we have, it’s always a plus and a boost of energy.
Benintendi recently made headlines for reasons other than baseball, as he was part of a group of Royals unable to travel to Toronto because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The Yankees still have a regular-season series in Toronto (Sept. 26-28); The New York Post reported on Wednesday that Benintendi told his relatives he would receive the vaccine.
A 2021 Gold Glover who played seven major league seasons with the Red Sox (2016-20) and Royals (2021-22), Benintendi has made 88 starts in left field this season, committing no errors in 164 chances. in total.
His arrival could create an outfield lineup of Benintendi in left field, Judge in center field and a combination of Aaron Hicks and Matt Carpenter in right field, at least until Giancarlo Stanton returns from the injured list.
The Benintendi acquisition also heralds the impending end of Joey Gallo’s time in a Yankees uniform; Gallo is batting .161 (37 for 230) with 103 strikeouts in 80 games, having last been used as a hitter in the eighth inning Tuesday against Mets closest Edwin Díaz.
Wednesday’s loss was the Yankees’ 12th in 22 games this month, and they now have the second-best record on the Majors at 66-33 (the Dodgers are 65-32).
“We’re still one of the best teams in the game, so I wouldn’t really judge our season after a few weeks,” Judge said. “But I think adding a guy like [Benintendi] will definitely give us some pump, that’s for sure. I think it will fit perfectly. »