Why Boston Red Sox trading Hunter Renfroe looks worse and worse

Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox trade of outfielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee for Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects looks worse the more you evaluate at it.

It raises questions about the direction of the 2022 Red Sox and their player acquisitions. Supporters of the trade say it’s all about the prospects. That’s fine, but what does it do for the 2022 Red Sox? That would be about nothing.

So, let’s explore in more detail this deleterious deal that weakened the team that came within two games of a World Series berth.

Why Boston Red Sox deal of Renfroe was ludicrous

Let’s look at what the Sox received for Renfroe, an outfielder who hit 31 home runs, had 96 RBI’s, and had 16 outfield assists.

First, they got back Jackie Bradley Jr. who they re-sign the last offseason. Bradley hit a woeful .163 last season with 6 home runs. That’s not exactly a one-for-one swap.

The Red Sox owe Bradley about $12M on the cap in 2022 and $9.5 in cash according to spotrac. Renfroe evidently would have made an estimated $7.5  in arbitration. That’s paying more for less any way you look at it.

Apologists for this seemingly baffling trade argue that it’s all about the prospects. They would be 21-year-old power-hitting Alex Binelas and 24-year-old middle infield speedster David Hamilton.

Binelas can hit, but neither he nor Hamilton will even sniff the major leagues this season. This leaves one unassailable fact, the trade hurts the team in 2022.

Boston Red Sox took a step back with the trade of Hunter Renfroe

The Red Sox surprised the baseball world and their fans with a great 2021 season. They made the playoffs and beat the New York Yankees in a play-in game.

They then took out the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays to gain a berth in the American League Championship Series before they crashed out against the Houston Astros.

The clear objective this offseason should have been to improve that 2021 team and make them an even stronger contender for a World Series appearance

Instead, Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has weakened the team’s offense considerably to obtain a defensive player, Bradley, and two prospects who will not see Fenway Park in 2022.

Now to qualify this, after the lockout ends, the Red Sox will still have an opportunity to improve the team over the 2021 version. They have a long way to go.

They have spent considerably on starting pitching. The three pitchers they signed may or may not help. $10M went to David Paxton who’s coming off Tommy John surgery.

They dished out an additional $7M on Michael Wacha, another reclamation project. He won a whopping 3 games with a 5.05 ERA for Tampa Bay last season.

They also spent $5M on Rich Hill, maybe the best starter of the three. That’s $22M on two question marks and a soon-to-be 42-year-old pitcher. That cash could have/should have been spent to acquire a top starter.

They’ve also left Kyle Schwarber on the market. The supposed downside in signing him is that he’s a defensive liability. Perhaps he’s not the best fielder. Yet, he’s versatile and can play outfield and first base.

Then, after 2022 and the likely departure of J. D. Martinez, he’ll be a perfect fit at DH. So the defensive liability argument holds little water.

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Schwarber is a great fit in Boston. In addition, he can hit with tremendous left-handed hitting power. Arguments against signing Schwarber are specious. They don’t hold up at all under scrutiny.

The outgrowth of all these moves is that the 2022 Boston Red Sox as currently reconfigured by Chaim Bloom is not nearly as strong as the 2021 version.

There are lots of smoke and mirrors at work here and hopes for hitting jackpots on questionable signings. Instead of improving a team that nearly got to the World Series, the team has regressed.

Hopefully,  Chaim Bloom will strengthen this squad for another run after the lockout. But as of the moment, beginning with the ill-advised Renfroe trade, this off-season has been a flop.