The Boston Red Sox picked up outfielder Hunter Renfroe on a one-year deal. Renfroe has signed for a guaranteed $3.1 million in 2021 with a further $600,000 in incentives, according to reports from Alex Speier.
Renfroe wasn’t expected to be a free agent this offseason when the Rays traded for him last winter. Tampa Bay sent Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth to San Diego in the deal. Renfroe had a terrible 2020 season, though, and the ever-frugal Rays decided against tendering him a contract. Projected for something in the $4 million range, the Red Sox have clearly picked up a bargain despite his brutal 2020 slash: .156/.252/.393.
The surface numbers are unspectacular for Renfroe. He’s a career above-average hitter, but not by much. Defensively he’s been solid, recording 23 outs above average over the last three years, and he’s got a cannon of an arm. At 29 years old, this doesn’t look like a signing to get the Fenway Park faithful giddy.
With Jackie Bradley Jr.hitting free agency, the Red Sox needed outfield reinforcements and early reports claim Renfroe will be an everyday outfield option despite his splits. Alex Verdugo is expected to slot into centre with Renfroe and Andrew Benintendi manning the corners.
Renfroe is a really nice fit on the Red Sox even if Bradley re-signs. Benintendi, Verdugo and Bradley are all lefties with varying splits. Renfroe, over 2018 and 2019, was a 121 wRC+ against southpaws. He can be a fourth outfielder at that price. His speed – 63rd percentile in 2020 – will help to cover the vast right field at Fenway.
The Red Sox prioritised salary cutting by trading Mookie Betts and David Price. They are a long way from contending in 2021, but signing Renfroe for a shade over $3 million was a smart move. It’s the signing of a franchise making good decisions, a franchise identifying value pieces.
Chaim Bloom isn’t going to make them into a winner overnight, but players like Renfroe are part of the process. There’s reason for optimism in Boston.