Outfielder Andrew Benintendi and the Chicago White Sox agreed on a five-year, $75 million contract Friday, sources told ESPN, linking one of the game's premier bat-to-ball hitters with a team whose contact-oriented approach is one of its offensive hallmarks.
Benintendi, 28, hit .304/.373/.399 this year in his time with the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees, who acquired him in a deadline trade. A Gold Glove-winning left fielder, Benintendi posted the ninth-best batting average in Major League Baseball in 2022 and a top-25 strikeout percentage.
The $75 million guarantee represents the largest free agent contract in White Sox history. It beats the $73 million given to catcher Yasmani Grandal in a four-year deal that expires following the 2023 season.
The White Sox, whose disappointing 2022 was pocked by injuries and regression, finished 19th in MLB in runs scored and lost their best offensive player, first baseman Jose Abreu, via free agency to the Houston Astros. Left fielder Andrew Vaughn is expected to move to first base, freeing up a spot for Benintendi to join center fielder Luis Robert, one of the White Sox's foundational players.
Chicago's offensive talent, with Benintendi, Robert, shortstop Tim Anderson, designated hitter Eloy Jimenez and third baseman Yoan Moncada, runs deep enough for the White Sox to dream of a better showing than their 81-81 season in 2022. Manager Tony La Russa stepped away after the season, and new manager Pedro Grifol was a coach in Kansas City, where Benintendi spent a season and a half after five years in Boston.
He won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018, making a sliding, game-ending catch in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series that helped Boston beat Houston. The Red Sox took Benintendi with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft -- one pick before the White Sox -- and he debuted the next season. By 2017, he established himself as a potential future star, hitting 20 home runs, stealing 20 bases and getting on base more than 35% of the time.
With a career on-base percentage of .351, Benintendi could find himself toward the top of the White Sox's lineup, perhaps in the No. 2 hole, behind Anderson. In 745 career games, he has hit .279/.351/.431 with 73 home runs, 384 RBIs and 69 stolen bases.
The deal is expected to push the White Sox's payroll over $200 million for the second consecutive season.