Red Sox: Signing Hunter Renfroe is low hanging management contract fruit

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 23: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Texas Rangers during the tenth inning at Fenway Park on August 23, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 23: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Texas Rangers during the tenth inning at Fenway Park on August 23, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox have options to keep Hunter Renfroe beyond 2021

Is it too early for the Red Sox to reach out to Hunter Renfroe? Renfroe has been a breath of fresh power this season, especially in August. The right-hand power hitter is controllable, meaning arbitration. That is a situation that is like watching sausage being made – best avoidable.

Arbitration is usually settled, but sometimes animus occurs when both sides get confrontational. Management points out why a player is borderline worthless, and the player’s representatives counter with a litany of favorable statistics. Just how much ire was instilled in Mookie Betts over arbitration?

Back to Renfroe. The Red Sox have Renfroe if they want him. Arbitration is a guarantee for a single season, and that can be a catapult to an extension. The risk is that extension. Renfroe has already proved his value, and the Red Sox will offer a contract and possibly open the door for a longer-term deal. A contract move of this type would be a positive start to the offseason and an easy one to accomplish.

More from Red Sox News

The negatives on Renfroe are similar to the negatives of players residing on the Red Sox roster – whiffs. Renfroe is just representative of his times, but his current 21.8 K% is a career-low. Lost at-bats are simply production given away.

The next is speed, and Renfroe is somewhat of a clog on the basepaths. At least Renfroe has the intuitive intelligence to minimize damage to his feet. Rafael Devers, please take note.

Defensively, Renfroe is a positive. Renfroe may be no gazelle but runs the proper routes, has a cannon for an arm, is accurate with his throws, and has proven himself quite capable defensively in the expansive and tricky Fenway Park right field.

The primary function of Renfroe is that one item that is a standard requirement for Fenway Park – home run power. Renfroe bludgeons a baseball, and when in a groove, pitchers become a wary lot. Renfroe is a physical presence, and that is well noted on statcast distance figures.

This season, Renfore’s value is in the neighborhood of $15 million, according to FanGraphs. Renfroe’s current salary is $3.1 million and a substantial bargain based on return. That $15 million would be an improbable arbitration figure to request or even being given out. The method best is to reach an accommodation on 2022 salary and use that as a basis for – as previously mentioned – a longer-term deal.

There is the risk. Renfroe failed in 2020 with Tampa and was cut loose. The numbers were staggeringly deficient. The prior season with the Padres, Renfroe slammed 33 home runs and hit just .216. A reason, I admit, soured me on the Renfroe signing. Is 2021 an anomaly? Will Renfroe return to the swamp of low average?

This season Renfroe has finally hit right-handed pitching. Long a poison pill for lefties, now righties are no longer a complete but just partial mystery. Renfroe is also not a one-trick Fenway Park pony since his road/home splits are comfortably intuned. At 29-years-old, Renfroe may have it figured out. That said, I will not expect a .300 average. Renfroe will sometimes be painful with runners left on base, but the plus versus minus favors getting Renfroe locked up.

Renfroe is low-hanging fruit for management this offseason. If the team wants Renfroe, it can take either via arbitration or a longer-term salary offering. Renfroe has won over the fans – especially this one – with his production and dirt dog style of play that occasionally surfaces. A Renfroe contract would have positive internal and external consequences with contract situations emerging on Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez.

Next. Houck credits splitter for recent success. dark

The Red Sox may have already reached out to Renfroe’s representatives on a potential contract for 2022. That is unknown and speculative, but I would be in the category where reaching out has occurred. I would also suspect that the Red Sox views Renfroe for longer than just a one-and-done player. A Renfroe deal would be an excellent cornerstone for offseason signings.