Brewers Rumors: Current Starting Outfielder Could Be On Trade Block
By John Egan
You can add a Brewers outfielder to the rumor mill as the start of the 2022 MLB Free Agency begins. Last week, almost every rumor article or list included starting pitchers Brandon Woodruff or Corbin Burnes. Now, you can add Milwaukee’s current right fielder Hunter Renfroe to the list.
The Milwaukee Brewers have plenty of steps to take to boost their roster this offseason. Matt Arnold,
David Stearns and the front office have all said they would like to improve their pitching depth. They
could be adding a starting pitcher and need some experienced depth in the bullpen. The team could also improve at third base. A starting catcher still needs to be found as well.
What they have plenty of right now is outfielders. Christian Yelich, Hunter Renfroe, Tyrone Taylor and
Garrett Mitchell will be on the Opening Day Roster. And just behind them are Esteury Ruiz, Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer. Jackson Chourio might also not be far away from the majors.
Renfroe appears to be a good trade chip. But he was also one of their best hitters last year and has
arguably the best arm in the outfield. Unless you get MLB talent in return, why get rid of someone like
Renfroe? If anything, the Brewers should be adding pieces to their core. Not trading a good player away in hopes of some sort of dream perfect-rounded roster.
According to the latest Brewers trade rumors, Hunter Renfroe could be a trade chip this offseason. Should the Brewers part ways with such a productive player?
You can blame Buster Olney for all of this. He came out swinging on a Monday morning with the
That is a lot to unpack. Some Brewers fans have claimed that there isn’t room for Renfroe anymore on the roster with so many outfield prospects. But with those stats, it’s also hard to say with a straight face. Any team would love a player with those stats.
Why trading Hunter Renfroe Now is the Right Time
One could argue that it now is the perfect time to trade Hunter Renfroe. His stock has never been higher. Yes, he has played with four different teams the last four years. But he was a perfect fit on the Brewers.
On the field, he arguably had the best arm in the outfield last year. The young talent coming up could replace him, but he’s got a cannon for an arm compared to Christian Yelich and Tyrone Taylor. He was the best qualified hitter on the roster and is overall an above-average everyday player.
It was just a year ago, right before the lockout, that David Stearns performed another masterclass trade with the Boston Red Sox. The Brewers received Renfroe, and Milwaukee sent Jackie Bradley Jr. and prospects to Boston. Renfroe had one of his best seasons as a member of the Brew Crew last year. Besides the OPS and homers, his stats were near career-high. His batting average ended at .255, his highest was in 2021 with .259. He also played almost 20 more games with the Red Sox. His RBIs and home runs were down a bit, but the injury bug had a part in that. Renfroe, much like the rest of the team, suffered from slumps at a few points.
Renfroe is an ideal trade candidate if the return would be right. If the Brewers would receive a starting
catcher or a solidified set-up bullpen arm, it might make sense. Teams always need a player that can hit 29 home runs a year. And if you believe and want to follow the narrative that Brewers ownership does not want to pay all the higher salaries this year, moving Renfroe would be the move. He only has one year or arbitration left before free agency.
With Lorenzo Cain and Andrew McCutchen off the books, that does technically free up some space. But the Brewers have a lot of higher arbitration deals to make this year. And with younger players almost ready, adding to the roster somewhere with less depth does make sense in a way.
Why trading Away Hunter Renfroe Would Be Silly
In all honesty, it truly is silly to think about. For a team that needs more consistent hitting, trading away one of your best hitters doesn’t make sense. He had a great 2021, and Boston still traded him away for a few lower prospects and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with JBJ returning to his old team. It ended up not being a good look for them. Why should the Brewers do the same?
Yes, the Brewers have lots of outfielders ready. Mitchell and Ruiz are almost a guarantee for the roster
next year and Frelick isn't far behind. But with the other younger hitters having been in Triple-A for only a short time, it wouldn’t hurt to get players like Wiemer and Frelick another couple hundred of at-bats in the minors before moving them up.
We are all excited about the prospects in the Brewers organization. But moving them up too early could ruin their development or the hype. Getting some additional games with one of the best teams in the minor leagues won’t hurt anything. Keep Hunter Renfroe and his $11M salary and be happy you have the depth if needed.
For the past three seasons, everyone has said the Brewers have “too many” outfielders. Well, for the
past three seasons we have needed all of those outfielders and wanted more. McCutchen did not meet expectations when it came to hitting. Lorenzo Cain was DFA’d. Tyrone Taylor was streaky. Mitchell showed a lot of potential, but it is still early. Ruiz barely got an at-bat.
There is a lot to figure out for the Brewers outfield. But trading Renfroe right now, unless the return is
amazing, doesn’t make sense. Keep his offense and arm on your roster unless the offer back is too good. Baseball has no salary cap. Yes, Milwaukee has limits. Those limits though shouldn’t mean that $11MM for your best hitter from last season breaks the budget. If that’s the case, then we shouldn’t even bother thinking about Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff extensions.
If one of them suddenly gets a big extension and the salary shoots up a bunch with a free agency signing, then sure. But Hunter Renfroe should stay a Milwaukee Brewer for the 2023 season. Stranger things have happened, though. The offseason is only just beginning.