Okay, I know the Brewers need some help on offense and I know Jackie Bradley Jr.’s first year in Milwaukee didn’t go well (to put it as kindly as can be), but I can’t say I saw this deal coming. Not so soon after Bradley Jr. signing in Milwaukee. Not so close to the lockout … which has already been voted on unanimously. But here we are.
The Brewers have acquired OF Hunter Renfroe from the Red Sox in exchange for OF Jackie Bradley Jr. and INFs David Hamilton and Alex Binelas.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 2, 2021
By the way, this is like one of those “buying prospects with cash” trades we’ve always talked about.
Last winter, the Brewers signed Bradley Jr. to a two-year, $24 million deal (with a massive $8M buyout in 2023 on a $12M mutual option) and … it went very, very poorly in 2021: .163/.236/.261 (35 wRC+); -0.8 WAR. So just like that, Bradley Jr. is back off to Boston, where he spent the first 8 seasons of his career. Ditching the contract – and netting a pretty useful player in Hunter Renfroe (29 years old with a 114 wRC+ last season) cost the Brewers two top-15ish organizational prospects, plus whatever bounceback potential Bradley Jr. was holding.
It’s not clear how much of Renfroe’s 2022 salary the Brewers will have to pay (he’s arbitration eligible for the second time and estimated to cost $7.6M in 2022), but I’m guessing the whole point is that they don’t wind up paying a lot. Either way, they’ll save some money.
Now don’t get me wrong, for as much as I love to see the Brewers be forced to squirm out of a financial commitment that looked bad almost immediately, Renfroe could still be a useful player and this likely does make them better in the short term … which suddenly matters a little bit more to a Cubs team that figures to try a little harder in 2022-2024 with Marcus Stroman now on board.
With the lockout coming, I don’t know how medicals will work in this case – maybe the deal has been almost done for a while (or maybe Boston’s familiarity with Bradley Jr. eased the friction – but it is done.
OF Hunter Renfroe has been acquired from Boston in exchange for OF Jackie Bradley Jr., INF David Hamilton and INF Alex Binelas. pic.twitter.com/00WdrqYT5S
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 2, 2021