Early returns show the Hunter Renfroe trade is a negative for Red Sox
The Red Sox bought two prospects in the trade of Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley is being potentially paid nearly $22 million for 2022-2023 ($12 million mutual option for next year with an $8 million buyout), and Renfroe is on Brewer’s books for $7.650 million. So balancing the contract dollars, the Red Sox paid a very tidy sum for Alex Binelas and David Hamilton. Where it blows up is a comparison of Renfroe and Bradley.
JBJ did nothing for the 2021 Brew Crew, hitting .163 in 134 games. As usual, Bradley was a plus on defense, and that can apply to this season, and so can the “hitting,” which is deliberately placed in quotes. Bradley is dead weight, and waiting for a hot streak is like waiting to win Power Ball.
Meanwhile, Renfroe is on track to match his 31 homers in 2021. Renfroe is not in the same class defensively as Bradley but is no ham sandwich in the outfield, and I’d take his offense over Bradley’s defense.
Then there are the prospects. Binelas is a left-hand swatter who is currently at Greenville (A+). On MLB Prospect Watch, Binelas is ranked 22 in the system, and Sox Prospects pegs the 21-year-old at 18th. The scouting reports are dismissive of Binelas’s future at third base, thanks to questionable defensive instincts. Otherwise, the reports are favorable but far from outstanding. BSI has routinely covered the Red Sox minor league system, and both will be mentioned in various reports on the system.
Hamilton is not on the team’s top 30 on Prospect Watch, but Sox Prospects has the 24-year-old lefty hitter at 25. Hamilton is at Portland (AA) and showing off his main attribute – speed. Sox Prospects has Hamilton at plus-plus in that category. Hamilton may get a quick look based on that single attribute based on the sloth-like MLB team.
Hamilton plays shortstop and is considered steady but not outstanding. His hitting reports are based on a positive regarding pitch recognition and a negative being his ability to adjust as he progresses. If Hamilton could hit and use his speed, there is always the thought of David Eckstein.
Neither player is considered a possibility for anything more than a platoon player or bench depth. Hamilton could “run” into a job, but dismissing prospects as borderline is risky. Many years ago, Baseball Digest would profile minor league players, and I remember a profile on one player commenting on his intensity but lack of skills to keep him as a utility player. The player was Pete Rose.
Nether will be Rose, and in all probability, the stop sign will be at AA or AAA baseball. The deal should be graded as a short-term disaster based on just the season’s first month. Renfroe’s bat is sorely missed as the Red Sox offense has slogged along; if the lineup had produced, Bradley’s poor offense could be absorbed as an expense of doing business.
There are two upsides, with the first being that JBJ does something besides appearing as a stone planter with a bat. The second is the prospects find their high-end value and a bit more, and I hold neither as happening. This deal hurt more than it helped.