The Milwaukee Brewers traded Jackie Bradley Jr. plus prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right fielder Hunter Renfroe on Wednesday night, but they could have ended up with a different outfielder.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday that the Brewers spoke about a Bradley trade with multiple teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays. Such a swap would have sent Randal Grichuk to Milwaukee in a one-for-one deal.
Grichuk, who turned 30 in August, began his career with the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals and has spent the past four seasons with the Blue Jays. He is a .245/.293/.473 hitter, which translates to a 103 wRC+.
The veteran has the ability to play center field, and although he is a below-average defender up the middle, one could argue that it makes him more valuable than Renfroe in the field. However, with both Lorenzo Cain and Tyrone Taylor checking in as above-average center fielders, Grichuk likely would have played exclusively right field for the Brewers.
Rosenthal explained that the Brewers ultimately preferred to acquire Renfroe at the added cost of two prospects for a couple of reasons. First of all, he is projected to be cheaper in his final two years of arbitration. Grichuk has two seasons remaining on a five-year, $52 million contract that is paying him just north of $10 million per year. While their offensive profiles are similar, Renfroe hits for a bit more power (.253 ISO, 36 HR per 162 games) than Grichuk (.227 ISO, 29 HR per 162 games). Renfroe is also fresh off the best offensive season of his career, whereas Grichuk stumbled to a career-worst 85 wRC+.
It appears as though the Brewers made clearing Bradley’s salary a priority entering the offseason. At the very least, they wanted to swap his contract out for that of a player who they saw as more likely to be worth the money. They ultimately decided to attach two prospects to Bradley to save a bit more money and acquire a true power bat to fill right field in Hunter Renfroe.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.