Betts, Bogaerts, Benintendi: Who stays?

Boston Red Sox players including Mookie Betts, middle, take the field for the start of their baseball home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Fenway Park, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)

After a long, but luckily not so awful winter, baseball season is finally underway. Boston kicked off their season Monday afternoon with the best weather you could ask for in April, a strong outing from Cy Young pitcher Rick Porcello and a three-run homerun from rookie Andrew Benintendi. Add in a victory, and it was a pretty good way to start the 2017 Sox season.

During the offseason, a lot of the Boston sports talk conversations revolved around the big three in pitching: Rick Porcello, David Price and of course newly acquired Chris Sale. Another hot topic was speculating on all of Boston’s young talent. Rookie Andrew Benintendi showed up to Fort Myers looking less like a 22-year-old kid, and more like a full grown man. Benintendi, along with Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, are all young players with incredible talent.

Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about giving any of them up (for now). Realistically the Sox won’t keep all three forever, and someone will leave either by choice or as a pawn in a future trade. Thinking about this question one name immediately came to mind. But then I made a case for a different name, and by the time you know it I’m completely stumped. Let’s break down what each has to offer, and who, in my opinion is truly the most valuable.

We’ll pick on the young guy first. Andrew Benintendi is just 22-years-old, entering his first full season in the majors. We got a quick look at Benintendi toward the end of last season, where he appeared in 34 games for the Sox. The outfielder batted .295 with 31 hits and 14 RBI’s. Defensively he also looked pretty good. The most memorable moment for the rookie came in August when he robbed a homerun from Rays Steven Souza Jr. on a crazy over the wall catch. At first thought, many people might pick Benintendi without hesitation. Though there’s high hope for Benintendi, the sample we’ve gotten from him so far is way too small. As of now he looks like a stud, but only time will prove that to be true.

Moving to the infield, we have Xander Bogaerts. The 24-year-old shortstop had a really good first-half last season, and then fell victim to a second-half slump. Though a single month isn’t fair to gauge a player, Bogaerts dropped to a .180 average last August. Pitchers made adjustments when he stepped up to the plate, and he couldn’t do the same. Without the constant fastballs to Bogaerts, he struggled to be the consistent hitter he had been in previous months. Not to mention Bogaerts is a client of Scott Boras. He’s notorious for the big money, long-term deals. Picking Bogaerts here might mean keeping him here for the long haul, something I’m not sold on with his inconsistent offense.

That leaves us with Mookie Betts. After a lot of back and forth, I can confidently say Mookie is my long term pick. Mookie has made continuous progress since his 2014 majors debut. Last season, he took home a lot of hardware winning the Golden Glove award, as well as a Silver Slugger. Mookie made the All Star team, and also finished second in AL MVP voting just behind Mike Trout. The homegrown outfielder has proved to be reliable and consistent both on offense and in the outfield. Though he’s only slightly older than Benintendi, Mookie has had more majors experience and has not only handled it, but excelled while there. Bogaerts has been in the majors for longer, but without the consistency that Betts has given Boston.

For the time being, I’m more than happy to keep all three.


Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mary.burkhardt@uconn.edu.