Just before the league began the lockout, and for some reason scrubbed their website of any mention of current players, the Brewers got their de facto replacement for Avisail Garcia in right field. Not only did they manage to get a guy with a nearly identical stat line as Garcia the previous season, they managed to dump what was turning out to be the worst contract on the team.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was set to make $9.5 million in 2022 and likely would have gotten another $8 million in a buyout after the season. After having one of the worst offensive seasons of all time, you knew the league’s smallest market was going to have to find someone to take on that money. Lo and behold, they were able to return to sender, shipping him back to the Red Sox with a couple of prospects as a thank you.
But the trade wasn’t just a salary dump. Hunter Renfroe’s stat line from 2021 looks like it got copy/pasted from Avisail Garcia’s. Last season Garcia was probably the Brewers most reliable bats and slashed .262/.330/.490 with a team leading 29 home runs. Meanwhile in Boston, Renfroe slashed .259/.315/.501 with 31 home runs.
So the trade not only saved the Brewers from paying $17.5 million for someone coming off a historically bad year, they replaced one of their best hitters with someone who had a nearly identical season.
RF/4th OF Comparison
With Renfroe set to replace Garcia in right field and JBJ shipped out of town, that bumps Tyrone Taylor into the fourth outfielder spot. When you compare the combined stats from Garcia and JBJ with the combined stats of Renfroe and Taylor, you can see exactly how much of an improvement this could possibly be for the Brewers.
With 848 at bats between the two of them, Garcia and JBJ had a combined slashline of .216/.287/.386 in 2021. Meanwhile, Renfroe and Taylor combined for 764 at bats while slashing .255/.317/.487. So when you see that 131 point rise in OPS, remember it comes with a cheaper price tag. Garcia and JBJ are set to make a combined $21.5 million in 2022, while Renfroe and Taylor are projected to make a little over $8 million between the two of them.
But can you really rely on Renfroe to copy Garcia’s production? If it wasn’t for Coors Field out in Colorado, Fenway Park would be the outlier ballpark in terms of offensive production. Since 2001, right handed hitters have an OPS of .778 at Fenway Park. That’s second highest behind the aforementioned Coors Field. American Family Field, however, has produced an OPS of .731 from right handed hitters, which is 15th highest of the 30 current ballparks. So will going from one of the best parks for righties to a mediocre one hinder Renfroe’s numbers? Perhaps not.
Of the 30 current ballparks, Renfroe’s highest OPS is at American Family Field. In nine games at AmFam, he has hit five home runs and slashed .303/.378/.818 for an OPS of 1.197. He put up those numbers while playing for the Padres from 2016-2019, a time period in which the Brewers had the fifth best ERA in the National League.
In that same time with the Padres, he slashed .240/.300/.508 against the Brewers’ NL Central rivals. The Reds were the only team that gave him trouble, slashing only .169/.206/.385 against them. However, he has an OPS over .890 against each of the other three teams.
So thanks to Stearns & Co. the Brewers will go into 2022 with a right field/fourth outfielder combination with a slugging percentage 100 points higher than the 2021 duo, got a guy who rakes at AmFam and against the NLC in general, replaced historically bad at bats with an up and comer, and will be paying about $8 million less. This is why teams like the Mets are trying to poach their front office guys.