The Angels acquired the outfielder Hunter Renfroe by the Brewers in exchange for pitchers Janson Junk, Elvis Peguero And Adam Seminaris. Both teams announced the deal.
It’s the third early strike of the offseason for the Halos, who have already signed the starter Tyler Anderson to a three-year free agent contract and internal acquired Gio Urshela. Now, they’re taking a step toward repairing an outfield that had a big question mark next to it Mike Trout And Taylor Ward.
Renfroe should consolidate the outside corner point together with Ward. He has been an above-average hitter in each of the past two seasons, with surprisingly similar production for the Red Sox in 2021 and the Brewers this year. The former Padres first-rounder has combined 60 home runs over the past two seasons, following 31 homers with the Sox and another 29 in Milwaukee. He had an identical percentage of . 315 on a basis each year, but more than made up for that modest number with great power output.
The right-handed hitter has hit between . 255 and . 260 in each of the past two years, while hovering around . 500 both seasons. He has a cumulative line of .257/.315/.496 in just under 1100 plate appearances dating back to early 2021. His 22.9% strikeout rate is around average, while he has walked at a slightly clip lower than the average of 7.6%. He is an inferior OBP slacker who has particularly decimated the left handed opposition. Renfroe has a line of .269/.357/.508 in 347 plate appearances in that stretch as he maintains the platoon lead, though he has enough power to remain a decent option against right-handed pitching ( .252 / .292 / .491).
That energy production is Renfroe’s calling card, but he’s also a solid defender in the outside corner. Defensive runs saved have pegged him around the league average in right field each of the past three seasons. Statcast’s reach-based metric has Renfroe a few below average runs per year, but he makes up for his marginal athleticism with top-tier arm strength. He has collected double-digit assists in each of the past two years and leads all outfielders in MLB after striking down 27 baserunners in that span.
Renfroe’s excellent arm strength kept him primarily in right field in his later years, although he logged a number of innings in left early in his career. If he enters right field at Angel Stadium, Ward will move to left field. Former top prospect I Adello now it looks like he’ll be demoted to fourth in the outfield/bench after starting his career with a .215/.259/.356 shown in about a full season of games. Adell is still just 23 and coming off a solid year in Triple-A Salt Lake, but the Angels don’t seem willing to count on him for a regular role as they look to make their way into the playoff picture in 2023.
As with last week’s Urshela trade, Renfroe’s acquisition is about deepening training with a productive but non-elite veteran for a season. Renfroe turns 31 in January and is in his final season in control of the club. He is slated by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a salary of $11.2 million and will be a free agent at the end of the year. That’s a reasonable sum for a player of this caliber, but a moderately expensive season of umpiring check on a lower OBP corner slacker isn’t teeming with commercial value. Renfroe is the second such player traded in as many weeks.
The Blue Jays have taken care Teoscar Hernandez to sailors for Erik Swanson and launch perspective Adam Mako. That trade came as a surprise to a number of Toronto fans, but each of Swanson and Macko are arguably more attractive players than any pitching trio Milwaukee has received in this trade. Hernández is a better hitter than Renfroe, but the gap between his .282/.332/.508 line over the past two seasons and Renfroe’s output isn’t all that dramatic. However, Renfroe had a hard time staying anywhere as his price rose during his officiating seasons. The Halos will be his fifth team in as many years, as he has played successively for the Padres, Rays, Red Sox and Brewers as of 2019.
The addition of his projected referee salary pushes Halos’ projected 2023 payroll up to approximately $192 million, per Roster Resource. It would be the highest markup in franchise history, just surpassing last season’s rough $189 million mark. That’s up to about $206 million in luxury tax liabilities, about $27 million less than the base tax threshold of $233 million. The franchise’s spending power came into question this winter with owner Arte Moreno exploring a sale of the franchise. There is still no indication that the club is willing to enter luxury tax territory, but the acquisitions of Anderson, Urshela and Renfroe have reached an estimated spend of $31.9 million. The final two players represent one-year investments, but it really looks like Moreno is offering general manager Perry Minasian and his crew leeway to add to the roster ahead of the club’s final season of control over the US runner-up’s defense. TO the MVP Shohei Ohtani.
The Brewers are adding a trio of pitchers, two of whom already have big league experience. Junk is a former 22nd round draft pick for the Yankees. He went to the Halos in the deal with the 2021 deadline that sent lefty Andrew Heaney to the Bronx. The right-hander has pitched seven MLB games in the past two seasons, starting six. He allowed a 4.74 ERA in 24 2/3 innings, striking out an under-average 19.4% of opponents but posting a 4.4% walk rate.
Junk, 27 in January, leans mostly into a low 80s slider that prospective evaluators suggest may be a pitch above average. He has decent spin on his 92-93 MPH four-seam, but he hasn’t cemented himself on a big league staff up to this point. He has spent most of this year in optional assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he posted a 4.74 ERA over 73 2/3 innings as a starter in a hitter-friendly environment. His strikeout percentage of 22.1% was slightly below average, but he paced only 5.8% of opponents. The Seattle University product still has a couple minor league option years left and can bounce between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville as a rotation depth or middle reliever.
And there’s more.