Benintendi briefly worried he'd go in Sale deal

Dombrowski says Red Sox never considered trading MLB's top prospect

Benintendi briefly worried he'd go in Sale deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Andrew Benintendi was eating lunch with a former college teammate at a restaurant in St. Louis when the news went viral.

Chris Sale was about to become a member of the Red Sox. For a brief couple of minutes, Benintendi wondered if he was part of the compensation that convinced the White Sox to part with a five-time All-Star.

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"My agent texted me. He's like, 'You're either going to go or not in the next two minutes.' I was just like, 'Well, there's not much I can do.' After that two minutes was up, I saw everything on Twitter," said Benintendi, ranked the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com. "People were texting me. Obviously, it was a big move for both sides. I'm excited he's on our side and I'm not facing him."

In hindsight, Benintendi didn't have much to worry about. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had little to no interest in trading his projected starting left fielder.

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"Well, we were never planning on it," said Dombrowski. "That was not a goal of ours to trade him. We like him a lot. I know we've traded a lot of good, young players, but I think it's important to break young players in. He's going to be one of the young players to break in the door. We'll have some other young guys breaking in on a year-in, year-out basis. But our goal was that he really was our left fielder. We never came close to trading him."

The turning point for the deal finally getting consummated was when White Sox general manager Rick Hahn settled for top prospects instead of Major League-ready talent.

Benintendi is a player Hahn had eyed back in July, when the White Sox first contemplated moving Sale.

By August, Benintendi was not only in the Major Leagues, but thriving just over a year after being drafted out of the University of Arkansas.

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Last year at this time, Benintendi hadn't even played at Double-A. He was in Minor League camp.

Things have moved quickly for the 22-year-old who could start the season as Boston's No. 2 hitter behind Dustin Pedroia.

"I don't know how old is he -- what is he, 22? He acts 32," said Pedroia. "His presence, he's always under control, he controls his at-bats. He's going to be good for a long time."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.