Andrew Benintendi, an All-Star shortstop and a potential trade target for several teams ahead of next month’s deadline, is one of 10 Kansas City Royals players who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 and will be placed on their team’s 4 restricted list. A series of games in Toronto that begins Thursday.
In addition to Benintendi, the team will be without utility players Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier; catchers Cam Gallagher and MJ Melendez; outfielders Michael Taylor and Kyle Isbell; and pitchers Brady Singer, Brad Keller and Dylan Coleman, Royals manager Mike Matheny said.
Prior to this series, Canada’s vaccination requirements meant that only 25 players in the league were on the restricted list. Most recently, the visiting Phillies were forced to retire four players. The Royals will expand that list dramatically, as nearly 40 percent of their 26-man roster is ineligible. The team will fill out the roster using minor leaguers.
Players on the restricted list do not receive service time or money for missed games.
Singer, a right-hander who allowed one run in six innings in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers, was not scheduled to play in Toronto despite his vaccination status. But the Royals will sorely miss some other players, not least Benintendi, who raised his batting average to .317 by going 2-for-4 on Wednesday.
While being four games short is a problem, the more pressing concern for Kansas City, 18 games under .500 this season and last in the American League Central, may be how this news affects the trade value of the back end. Seen as a target for teams looking for a hitter who puts the ball in play, Benintendi’s participation in games in Toronto could complicate any potential deal.
Benintendi, 28, will be a free agent after this season. A first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2015 out of the University of Arkansas, he has career highs in average and on-base percentage this season and is hitting .414 (24-for-58) last season. 16 games. But his value is somewhat limited because he doesn’t offer much in the way of power, baserunning or defense.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have their own drama ahead of the series with the team announced the firing of manager Charlie Montoyo on Wednesday. Montoyo was popular among the players, media and fans, but Toronto entered the season with World Series aspirations and so far has fallen short with a 46-42 record, 15.5 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and virtual. A tie with the Seattle Mariners for the AL’s third and final wild-card spot.