With Nick Senzel still banged-up and the outfield still a complete unknown, it’s hardly surprising to see the Cincinnati Reds still shopping for help at the position with pitchers and catchers set to report in just a week. That’s what they were up to on Wednesday evening, as they landed OF Will Benson from the Cleveland Guardians, as the Reds announced on Twitter in the midst of a Twitter crash.
Welcome to Reds Country, Will Benson❗️— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) February 8, 2023
The #Reds have acquired the outfielder from the Guardians in exchange for minor league OF Justin Boyd and a player to be named later or cash. In a corresponding move, IF/OF Alejo Lopez was designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/c9upSNmcon
Benson, 24, is a former 1st round draftee and made it to the bigs for the first time last season, going just 10 for 55 with a 3/19 BB/K and a lone XBH (a double). That said, he raked at AAA during the 2022 campaign, posting a .948 OPS, 153 wRC+, and impressive 75/91 K/BB in 89 games before getting called-up.
There’s ample promise there, for sure. Still, ZiPS projected Benson to be worth -11 runs on defense in 2023 - the single worst mark on the entire club - so his ability to translate that recent AAA offensive production might be the key to getting value out of him. He’s spent time at all three outfield positions, which is at least a good sign of potential versatility even if it isn’t his strongest suit. He still has a trio of options left, too.
Getting Benson cost the Reds their most recent 2nd round pick in Justin Boyd, an outfield product from Oregon State who sputtered to just a .547 OPS in 21 games in Arizona and Daytona last year after being drafted. It also might cost them Alejo Lopez, who was designated for assignment to create the 40-man roster space to accommodate Benson’s acquisition. There’s also a cash/PTBNL clause in the deal, meaning the Reds will be forking over that at some point in the near future, too.