I, like many, think that trading Hunter Renfroe would be a bad look for the Brewers. Trading one of their top hitters from 2022 would be a white flag and a harsh recognition that financial concerns outweigh an effort to compete.
But there is a good case to be made to trade Renfroe. This is his last year prior to free agency and the Brewers are likely not going to even extend him a qualifying offer after this year, so they will get nothing for him after 2023. The qualifying offer will likely be over $20 by next year and the Brewers, with other players reaching later stages in arbitration won't be able to afford it and, if OF prospects continue to develop won't have much need for Renfroe in 2024. The risk of having Renfroe actually accept a QO will be to great for the Brewers to make the offer, And without the offer, there is no draft pick compensation when a free agent leaves.
So if the Brewers want to roll this asset's value forward, they really do need to trade him -- the whole bite at the apple perspective. It would be better to push off that trade and work on it during the season if prospects are pushing for playing time in right field. But the pool of potential trade partners will be diminished and the return will likely be less because teams will recognize that the Brewers are forced to trade him. And if the Brewers do trade him this off season, than Tyrone Taylor can provide at least replacement level production while the prospects sort out who is the most ready to ascend into the position full time.
But trading Renfroe would be removing one of the best middle of the order bats from a line up that is already short on impact talent. It certainly seems like a move that would only be made if the Brewers were not looking to compete in 2023.
Unless, the Brewers use that anticipated $11 million Renfroe salary to replace his bat and/or address a position of greater need. The scenario where a Renfroe trade makes sense is if the Brewers are able to sign or trade for an impact bat while also using Renfroe to acquire a player with longer control that addresses a position of greater need -- third base or catcher. This doesn't have to be specifically a trade that fulfills both of these needs. It could be something like a Renfroe trade for a catcher and then the Brewers sign Abreu to fill the middle of the order.
A Renfroe trade would ideally be coupled with other moves to fill his offensive production while covering an area of need. Making this type of a roster redesign even more difficult is that Renfroe, being a year from free agency and likely to earn in excess of $11M isn't a big trade chip after all. That trade will have to be with a team looking to compete and with an outfield opening. And they will have to have a player available that fills a position of need.