Andrew Benintendi, knowing its importance in Chicago, designed a new number for the 23-year-old.

Michael Jordan, Robin Ventura and Ryn Sandberg wore it.

So will Benintendi.

“I was afraid it would be asked,” Benintendi said at an opening press conference after being signed by the White Sox to a record $75 million, five-year contract. “It’s not what you think. I’m a Michael Jordan fan growing up. But the main numbers I usually like to wear are all taken or retired. And this presented itself And I thought why not.

Benintendi’s sister wore 32 in high school basketball so she could flip around a tip of the cap.

“But no, it’s a cool number, an iconic number in this city,” said Benintendi, who wore 16 with the Red Sox and Royals (retired by the Sox for Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons) and 18 with the Yankees. Was. “I’m trying not to say anything about it, but it’s a good number and hopefully it will do me well.”

More on the Sox’ biggest deal signing ever, surpassing Yasmani Grandal’s $73 million contract for four years, skyrocketing player salaries and the Sox’ reluctance to go nine figures for a free agent Was, but Benintendi looks like a good buy of a goalie.

“He’s a left fielder, but as far as we hit him in the lineup, he’s a very versatile player,” said manager Pedro Grifol, who coached the Royals the last two seasons while Benintendi was there. “He’s done everything in the game, he hits for average, he hits for power, he runs the bases well. He’s really good with what we’re trying to do here.” Kind of fits in.

Regarding that contract distinction, Benintendi said “It’s almost an uncomfortable conversation.”

“I’m so grateful but I’m not a material person or whatever. That’s cool. My job is to show up and play baseball games and win. Whether I’m the biggest number or the smallest, it’s the same thing, I don’t care.”

In any event, with an $8 million base salary, Benintendi is ninth from Lance Lynn ($18.5M), Grandal ($18.25M), Yoan Moncada ($17M), Liam Hendricks ($14M), Tim Anderson ($12.5M), Eloy are in place. Jimenez ($9.5M), Luis Robert ($9.5M) and Joe Kelly ($9M) on the 2023 payroll. Benintendi, 28, will make $16.5 million per season from 2024-26 and $14.5 million in 2027.

The Yankees wanted Benintendi to return after acquiring him at the 2022 trade deadline, but the Sox were willing to make a five-year offer.

“The thing for me is that there was communication from day one in the offseason,” Benintendi said. “There was constant interest throughout the process. … It’s great to be here. It’s nice to be with a team that wanted me from day one.”

Benintendi’s essential defense allowed JimĂ©nez to be the primary designated hitter for a team that ranked 27th in defensive runs saved. Grifol, who has managed the defensively-challenged Jimenez in the winter league, said Jimenez will continue to work on his defense and probably do some work in right field — where prospect Oscar Colas could be the Opening Day starter during spring training. .

“And in a true professional manner, Eloy does whatever is best for this ballclub and whatever helps us win baseball games,” Grifol said.

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