About an hour after Major League Baseball owners officially voted to lock out the players beginning at midnight on December 2, David Stearns and Matt Arnold swung a notable trade right at the buzzer. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe is coming to Milwaukee from the Boston Red Sox, who are receiving Jackie Bradley Jr. as well as infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton.
OF Hunter Renfroe has been acquired from Boston in exchange for OF Jackie Bradley Jr., INF David Hamilton and INF Alex Binelas. pic.twitter.com/00WdrqYT5S— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 2, 2021
The move accomplishes two goals in one transaction for the Brewers, who now have their replacement for Avisail Garcia while also shedding salary by finding a taker for the remainder of Bradley’s contract.
Renfroe, who is entering his age-30 season, has slashed .237/.297/.490 (106 wRC+) over a six-year career that began with the San Diego Padres followed by one-year stops with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Red Sox. He is coming off arguably the best season of his career with the Sox, slashing .259/.315/.501 (114 wRC+). After whiffing in 28% of his plate appearances with the Padres and Rays, Renfroe cut his strikeout rate down to 22.7%.
The veteran’s glaring weakness is his lack of on-base skills. However, the Brewers need more help in the power department than they do at reaching base. In 2021, they ranked 14th out of 30 teams in on-base percentage but 23rd in slugging percentage. Renfroe certainly brings some needed thump, having exceeded 30 home runs in 2019 and 2021 while averaging 36 long balls per 162 games over his career.
Renfroe is projected to earn $7.5 million in arbitration next season. He is under club control through the 2023 season.
The Brewers signed Bradley last year primarily for his glove, and he certainly lived up to defensive expectations. He accrued 12 Defensive Runs Saved and 4 Outs Above Average and was a Gold Glove finalist. Unfortunately, he was the worst hitter in the sport with at least 400 plate appearances, stumbling to a horrid .163/.236/.261 line (35 wRC+). Bradley now returns to his old home in Boston.
Bradley is owed $9.5 million in 2022, and his mutual option for 2023 comes with an $8 million buyout. The Red Sox are taking on those remaining commitments, but the tradeoff is that the Brewers had to part with two young infielders from their farm system. In essence, the Red Sox are buying two prospects.
Binelas, a corner infielder, was the organization’s third-round pick in the 2021 draft. The Wisconsin native fared well in his first exposure to professional baseball, slashing .309/.390/.583 in 36 games, most of which came with the Low-A Carolina Mudcats. The speedy Hamilton stole 52 bases in 101 games split between Advanced-A and Double-A.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference