It’s impossible to believe the Yankees traded for Andrew Benintendi without assurances that the 28-year-old left fielder will be vaccinated in time to play with his new teammates when the club crosses the border for a three-game Toronto series that kicks off. September 26.
If it has not been established by secondary channels, general manager Brian Cashman would be accused of malfeasance in acquiring Benintendi from the Royals on Wednesday in exchange for three prospects.
However one assesses Cashman’s tenure, the GM has never been known to be negligent. And acquiring an everyday player who might not be eligible to play everyday due to a personal decision would represent the grossest form of neglect.
Benintendi, who was in left field and had a quiet 0-4 night out of first place in Thursday’s 1-0 win over Kansas City at the stadium in Aaron Judge’s ninth inning walk of the 39th circuit of the year, presents itself as agnostic regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
He delivered a salad of repeated, meaningless words when asked about it during his introductory press conference at the stadium hours before Jameson Taillon threw the first pitch of the ball game.
“Right now I’m still positioned in the same place,” said Benintendi, who was one of 10 Royals ineligible to play in Toronto when the club crossed the border for a four-game series two weeks ago.
“I’m open-minded about it. I am not against. But time will tell as we get closer [to the Toronto series]. For now, my focus is on feeling comfortable here and with the guys.
Without passing judgment, it seems to me that if you’re not against it, you’d be for it, and if you’re for it, you would have taken the vaccine within the past 16 months or so, it’s available to the general population in the United States. United
The three games in Toronto loom as critical dates in the race for the AL’s first seed that would give home-court advantage on a hypothetical best-of-seven championship series against the Astros, which the Yanks led by two games before Thursday. stock.
It’s also possible the Yankees will meet the Blue Jays in the second round of the AL Playoffs, where two possible best-of-five games would be played. It would be untenable to have an unvaccinated player on the playoff roster who couldn’t play in those games.
That would be untenable for the Yankees, who showed up with 100% compliance ahead of the first pair of three-game series this season in Toronto the first week of May and mid-June.
Benintendi, who came in with a .320/.387/.398 slash and the second-most hits in the AL with 111, said no one with the Yankees has spoken to him about his position on the vaccine before or after signing the agreement. completed. Manager Aaron Boone has confirmed he has not spoken to his new player about it. Coincidentally, the two used the term “Cross that bridge”, about an hour apart. Of course, Benintendi will not cross any bridges into Canada unless he is vaccinated at least 14 days before the team’s trip to Toronto.
Again, however. It’s downright impossible to believe the Yankees aren’t confident they’ll bring Benintendi with them for this run. It’s impossible to believe that a player who wants to contribute to a pennant race and race in the World Series – and who wants to assimilate – would be so selfish. It’s inconceivable that Cashman left this to chance and/or peer pressure.
Besides taking the hit, Benintendi is bringing everything to the Bronx on hire. It’s a slasher. He climbs on the base. It can move up and down control. He adds quality defense in left field. He makes the Yankees a deeper, more versatile and dangerous team at the right time.
The long season needed a refresh after the Yanks won just five of their last 15 games and dropped a doubleheader in Houston and a two-game series against the Mets in Queens last week. That acquisition added to that pitching performance from Taillon, Ron Marinaccio and Clay Holmes, and Judge’s routine heroics put this 67-33 team on a 109-53 pace.
Benintendi has a championship pedigree as a member of the 2018 Red Sox World Series winners. His five years in Boston should have prepared him well for life in the Bronx fishbowl. He is an energizing force on the pitch whose addition will give Boone a wide range of options – “He changes the equation”, the manager has said – in the past two months, even as the general manager seeks more gold before Tuesday’s trading deadline.
Boone explained how the line-up will be a “fun game” to play with Benintendi at the club and how it will be “more fun” when Giancarlo Stanton returns from his 10-day stint on the injured list with tendonitis of Achilles and the club is healthy. But while Benintendi has an array of talent, the best ability is availability.
“I just try to come here and help in any way I can,” Benintendi said.
He can help by getting vaccinated.