Boston May Want A Do-Over On The Hunter Renfroe Trade

Easily the most surprising and perplexing move of this past offseason for Boston was the decision to reunite with former outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. The trade saw Boston send 2021 standout hitter Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee in return for JBJ. It’s a move that felt odd at the time and feels even more odd now.

Renfroe came over to Boston after a short stint with Tampa Bay in 2020. He had a career season with the Sox in 2021, hitting .259 with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs. He was a key piece for one of the best offenses in baseball last year. In the postseason his bat did cool off a bit for the team. Regardless, Renfroe was an important part of the 2021 team.

It’s for that reason that it was so shocking to see Boston ship him to Milwaukee. Especially when the trade brought back a guy who is notorious for not being a great hitter. JBJ has had a long history with Boston. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Sox before making the move to Milwaukee in 2021.

JBJ would spend just the lone season in Milwaukee. He had a career-worst .163 batting average, and a career-worst .236 OBP. It’s no surprise why Milwaukee was eager to move on from him. JBJ is one of the best, if not the best, defensive outfielders in the sport. Unfortunately, he’s such a liability as a hitter, it can make it difficult to have him on the roster.

He’s had his moments, like in the 2018 ALCS with Boston, where he was named ALCS MVP. He was a key piece of that championship core in 2018. JBJ even made an All-Star appearance in 2016 while with Boston. He has his moments where he looks like an apparent star. The reality, however, is that he is a career .228 hitter.

The other unfortunate reality is that this trade looks to have seriously hurt the Red Sox in 2022. As many rightly predicted, bringing back JBJ has produced a significant drop-off in offensive production. As a whole, Boston’s offense has struggled intensely early on in 2022. Not all of the blame needs to be put on JBJ’s shoulders, but a chunk of it does.

So far in 2022, JBJ is hitting just .147, which would be his career-worst. His .227 OBP on the year would also be his career-worst. He is right now very clearly the worst hitter on the Red Sox. He’s the closest thing to an automatic out you can find. Remember, in the same position, last season Boston got 31 homers and 96 RBIs out of Renfroe, who batted .259 on the year. A ginormous drop in offensive production.

Boston probably wasn’t banking on Trevor Story starting his Boston tenure cold. Nor do I believe they foresaw Kike Hernandez and Bobby Dalbec regressing so intensely. Unfortunately, those are the harsh realities Boston is presently facing.

Meanwhile, Hunter Renfroe so far this season in Milwaukee is hitting .244 with 5 home runs and 10 RBIs already. Feels like Boston could have really used some of that. The defensive trade-off is definitely worth it when you consider how bad JBJ has been on offense so far. It’s not as if Renfroe was an awful defensive outfielder.

Not nearly as good as JBJ. Then again, Renfroe’s nearly 100-point better batting average seems like it would be a lot more helpful. Boston could really use some Hunter Renfroe right about now.

Featured image by AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

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