The first big trade of the Matt Arnold Era has been made. The Brewers traded Hunter Renfroe to the Angels in exchange for three young pitchers. How did they do?
At first glance, the return for Renfroe appears underwhelming. Sure he only had one year of control remaining before reaching free agency, but he was the Brewers most productive hitter in terms of batting average, OPS, and OPS+ last season.
The trade looks like a salary dump, but the Brewers did get some intriguing players in return.
Let's take a look at the three players the Brewers got in return for Hunter Renfroe.
Janson Junk, 26, is now ranked as the Brewers #14 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. He has 24.2 IP of MLB experience under his belt from the last two seasons and has a career 4.74 ERA. His fastball averages just about 92 MPH, but he can occasionally reach 96. His heater has high spin rates, which can make it more deceptive and appear faster to hitters, similar to what Freddy Peralta has. Junk has a good sweeping slider to go along with a curveball and a changeup to give him a four pitch mix.
The Brewers plan to give Junk an opportunity to earn a rotation spot in the spring but it's an uphill battle to make the initial starting five. He could serve in long relief and give spot starts and presents an upgrade over Jason Alexander at that position.
Elvis Peguero, 25, is unranked as a prospect and has 19.2 IP of MLB experience. He's a reliever only with a fastball-slider combo and some command issues. His career 9.61 ERA is unsightly, but it's a very small sample size. In Triple-A this year, Peguero had a 2.84 ERA in 44.1 IP and went 5-for-5 in save opportunities. He'll get a chance to earn a bullpen spot and will likely at the very least be up and down between Milwaukee and Triple-A this year. He likely upgrades over Jandel Gustave in his bullpen role.
Adam Seminaris, 24, was a 5th round pick in 2020 out of Long Beach State. He's a pitchability lefty that doesn't have overpowering velocity, but impeccable command, a deceptive delivery, works quickly, and has a four pitch mix. He will likely be stretched out as a starter but has a limited ceiling as a back-end starter at best. His profile is very similar to Brent Suter, who was a starter for a while before moving to the bullpen. He will probably replace Suter and fill that role once he makes the big leagues. He's not on the 40 man roster yet and may not break camp with the club.
Letter grade for the Brewers return in the Hunter Renfroe trade: C+
It's not an exciting return, but given the circumstances with Renfroe and what the market is paying for one year of a solid corner outfielder, the Brewers weren't likely to find a much better package coming back. Teoscar Hernandez brought back an established, quality bullpen arm and a decent pitching prospect for the Blue Jays. Renfroe isn't a better player than Hernandez, so his return would naturally be lighter.
The Brewers did get more players back for Renfroe than the Blue Jays did for Hernandez, but the quality of the players was lower. The three pitchers Milwaukee got have a lower ceiling and all will likely be pitching out of the bullpen the majority of the time.
That said, these players do represent some marginal improvements to the pitching staff. Junk is an improvement over Jason Alexander, Peguero is likely an improvement over Jandel Gustave and Luis Perdomo, and Seminaris adds some more lefty depth and can fill the hole left by the loss of Brent Suter.
Were these marginal improvements to the pitching staff equal in value to the 2.7 bWAR Renfroe provided in 2022? Unless one gets a legit run in the rotation, it's doubtful that this trio will provide that kind of WAR combined this season.
The Brewers are relying a lot on their pitching lab and pitching development to turn these three arms into serviceable pitchers for the big league club. There's not a lot of upside to work with, but if any organization can maximize it, it's probably Milwaukee. But there isn't the next Corbin Burnes or Devin Williams in here.
I would've liked to see the Brewers opt for a higher quality arm in return and maybe fewer overall players, but I understand their approach. After all, you can never have too much pitching.
So, the trade gets a C+ from me. Could've been better, could've been worse. Overall, it's not bad, but it's not exciting either, especially considering the salary dump portion of it. But in terms of it as a pure baseball trade, it's a C+.