Boston Red Sox: Looking back at two big offseason moves at midseason

Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox season is almost at the midway point, so it’s instructive to look back at two important offseason moves and assess them at this point. The first was the controversial trade (at least in some quarters) of uber-productive right fielder, Hunter Renfroe, for light-hitting defensive genius Jackie Bradley Jr. and two minor-league prospects.

While we’re at it, we’ll take a look at another major move (or non-move) which involved allowing heavy-hitting Kyle Schwarber to leave in free agency. Both Renfroe and Schwarber were instrumental in the late-season surge that allowed the Sox to reach the ALCS. Both moves were questioned at the time, so it might be helpful to see just how they have worked out for the Red Sox now that we are approaching the halfway point of the season.

Boston Red Sox have come up short in these two offseason moves

As baffling as these two moves were, it is always quite risky to question the baseball acumen of Chaim Bloom. He took the raw clay of the 2021 Red Sox team and, working with manager Alex Cora (a favorite in this space), turned it into a magical squad. Perhaps that is why his sanctioning those subtractions from that very talented and successful group was so astounding.

So far this season, neither Renfroe nor Schwarber have been particularly great. Renfroe is hitting .247 with 13 home runs and 27 RBI’s, but he’s on the injured list again for the second time this season. Schwarber’s average is a dismal .219, but he’s mashed 21 home runs to go along with 46 RBIs.

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Bradley, the only MLB level player used to replace either guy, is hitting just .211 with one home run and 22 RBIs. That’s a far cry from the power output of Renfroe, never mind Schwarber, who could reach the 40 homer threshold this season.

In the field, Renfroe hasn’t made an error yet this season, while also tallying seven outfield assists. Schwarber has an error and 2 assists, but he’s split his time in the outfield and as a designated hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies. Bradley meanwhile has been his usual great defensive self with no errors and three outfield assists to his credit thus far.

Meanwhile, neither Alex Binelas nor David Hamilton, the two prospects acquired along with Bradley for Renfroe, is near the major league level. Binelas has good power numbers with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs for Greenville and now Double-A Portland, so he is moving up the minor league ladder. Hamilton has been with Portland all season and has a rather forgettable .206 batting average with five home runs and 20 RBIs.

In retrospect, the trade of Renfroe and the non-signing of Schwarber have to be looked upon as less than productive moves by Bloom and the front office. Yet, as was the case in 2021, after a rough beginning of the season, the Red Sox have again stormed back from last place in the AL East and are now leading the American League Wild Card race, just ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays. There they go again.

Next. Sox jump into top 10 of the MLB's power rankings. dark

So, as was cautioned earlier, never count out a Boston Red Sox team assembled by Bloom and led by Cora. Somehow, some way, no matter how poor the offseason looks or how poorly they start the season, they seem to right the ship and get right back in the race. Maybe they can take this new momentum right back to the ALCS and then to the World Series. Hope so. That, as they say, is why they play the games.