Sports | July 28, 2022 12:48 pm

Was Vaccination a Requirement in Yankees Deal for Andrew Benintendi?

Benintendi didn't travel to Toronto earlier this month because he hadn't received the COVID-19 vaccine

Former Kansas City Royal Andrew Benintendi, pictured here, is a New York Yankee now
Andrew Benintendi didn't get the jab as a Royal, but he likely will as a Yankee.
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty

Traded to the Royals from the Boston Red Sox prior to last season for a handful of prospects who haven’t amounted to much, All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi is now headed from Kansas City to the New York Yankees in exchange for three minor league pitchers.

In order to get his shot at the plate for the Bronx Bombers, it is believed that Benintendi agreed to get the shot against COVID-19, something he was previously unwilling to do.

A World Series winner with the Red Sox in 2018, Benintendi was one of 10 players on the Royals who didn’t travel to Toronto in mid-July to take on the Blue Jays because they hadn’t received the COVID-19 vaccination. Still on his rookie contract, the 28-year-old lost $186,813 of the $8.5 million salary he won in an arbitration case against the Royals for missing the four-game series.

Originally unlikely to trade for the left-handed left fielder because of his vaccination status, the Yankees must have received assurances that Benintendi was willing to get the jab. Apparently, those assurances did not come from the Royals.

They may have come from Benintendi himself as The New York Post reported on Wednesday the former Gold Glove winner has told people close to him that he would receive the vaccine.

If Benintendi doesn’t get the shot, he will be the only member of the team who stays behind when New York travels to Toronto in late September for a three-game series as the Yankees’ entire active roster was cleared for Canadian travel earlier this season. The Yanks could also face the Blue Jays, who are second in the AL East, in the postseason.

A free agent at the end of the season, Benintendi has hit .320/.387/.398 with 14 doubles, two triples, three homers, 39 RBIs and four stolen bases in 93 games this season. A runner-up to new teammate Aaron Judge in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, Benintendi has a .261 average with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 30 career games at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s a really good player in the middle of an All-Star season,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Benintendi. “He’s got a track record of success with the [2018] Red Sox championship run. Obviously, he was a really good player for them, but he’s putting together a really good year for the Royals right now. Benintendi is a great hitter, gets on base at a really high clip, hits from the left side that gives you some balance. I’ll be excited to write his name.”

It won’t take long for Benintendi to get a crack at his old team as the Yankees host the Royals for a four-game series that starts Thursday. It’s unclear if Benintendi will be in the lineup for the first game — possibly due to a sore upper arm.