Angels acquire Hunter Renfroe from Brewers

Angels acquire Hunter Renfroe from Brewers

The Angels have acquired a gardener Hunter Renfroe of the Brewers in exchange for pitchers Johnson Junk, Elvis Peguero i Adam Seminars. The two teams have announced the deal.

It’s the third starting strike of the offseason for the Halos, who have already signed a starter Tyler Anderson to a three-year free agent contract and acquired roster player Gio Urshela. Now, they take a step to fix an outfield that had a major question mark next to it Mike Trout i Taylor Ward.

Renfroe should solidify the corner spot next to Ward. He’s been an above-average hitter in each of the last two seasons, with strikingly similar production for the Red Sox in 2021 and the Brewers this year. The former Padres first-rounder has combined for 60 homers over the past two seasons, following a 31-homer showing with the Sox with 29 more in Milwaukee. He had an identical .315 on-base percentage each year, but more than made up for that modest number with great power production.

The right-handed hitter has hit between .255 and .260 in each of the last two years, while batting around .500 both seasons. He has a .257/.315/.496 slash line in just under 1,100 plate appearances since the start of 2021. His 22.9% slugging rate is close to average, while he has walked a slightly below the average of 7.6%. He is a subpar OBP slugger who has especially decimated lefty opposition. Renfroe carries a .269/.357/.508 line in 347 plate appearances during that stretch while maintaining the platoon advantage, though he has enough power to remain a decent option against right-handed pitching ( .252/.292/.491). ).

That power production is Renfroe’s calling card, but he’s also a viable defender in the corner outfield. Defensive runs saved have tied him for the league average in right field in each of the past three seasons. Statcast’s rank-based metric has Renfroe a few runs below average annually, but he makes up for his athleticism with top-notch arm strength. He has hit double-digit assists in each of the last two years, and leads all MLB outfielders after slugging 27 base runners in that span.

Renfroe’s excellent arm strength has kept him primarily in right field in recent years, though he logged several innings in left early in his career. If he goes into right field at Angel Stadium, that would push Ward into left field. Former top prospectus I Adell now it looks like he’ll be relegated to the fourth outfield/bench spot after starting his career with a .215/.259/.356 showing in about a full season of games. Adell is still just 23 years old and coming off a solid year at Triple-A Salt Lake, but the Angels don’t seem ready to count on him for a regular role as they look to get into the playoff picture in 2023.

As with the Urshela trade last week, the acquisition of Renfroe is all about deepening the lineup with a productive but not elite veteran for one season. Renfroe turns 31 in January and is in his final season in charge of the club. he is projected from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for an $11.2 million salary, 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 arbitration control over a corner slugger with a subpar OBP isn’t full of trade value. Renfroe is the second such player traded in as many weeks.

The Blue Jays dealt Teoscar Hernandez to sailors for Erik Swanson and release perspective Adam Macko. This trade surprised several fans in Toronto, but each of Swanson and Macko are arguably more attractive players than any of the trio of pitchers Milwaukee received in this trade. Hernandez is a better hitter than Renfroe, but the difference between his .282/.332/.508 line over the past two seasons and Renfroe’s production isn’t that dramatic. However, Renfroe has struggled to stick anywhere as his price has risen throughout his offseasons. The Halos will be his fifth team in as many years, having successively played for the Padres, Rays, Red Sox and Brewers since 2019.

Adding his projected arbitration salary increases Halos’ projected payroll for 2023 to about $192 million, by resource from the list. That would be the highest mark in franchise history, narrowly eclipsing their roughly $189 million figure from this past season. That’s up to about $206 million in luxury tax liabilities, about $27 million below the base tax threshold of $233 million. The franchise’s spending power this winter has been questioned with owner Arte Moreno exploring selling the franchise. There’s no indication yet that the club is willing to move closer to luxury tax territory, but the acquisitions of Anderson, Urshela and Renfroe have come at an estimated cost of $31.9 million. The latter two players represent one-year investments, but Moreno general manager Perry Minasian and his group appear to offer some cap room to add to the roster ahead of the club’s final season of control over the defending AL MVP runner-up. Shohei Ohtani.

The Brewers add a trio of pitchers, two of whom already have major league experience. Junk is a former 22nd round pick of the Yankees. He went to the Halos in the 2021 deadline deal that sent him to the lefty Andrew Heaney in the Bronx. The right-hander has pitched in seven MLB games over the past two seasons, six starts. He has allowed a 4.74 ERA through 24 2/3 innings, striking out a below-average 19.4% of opponents, but with a 4.4% walk rate.

Junk, on Jan. 27, leans primarily on an 80-year-old slider that potential evaluators suggest could be an above-average pitch. He has decent spin on his 92-93 MPH four-seamer, but hasn’t really cemented himself in a big league staff thus far. He spent most of this year on optional assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he posted a 4.74 ERA through 73 2/3 innings as a starter in a hitter-friendly environment. His 22.1% strikeout rate was a touch below average, but he only walked 5.8% of opponents. The Seattle University product still has a couple of minor league option years remaining and can bounce between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville as rotation or middle relief depth.

Peguero, on the other hand, is a pure reliever. The right-hander made his debut in three appearances as a COVID reliever late in the 2021 season. He earned a permanent spot on the 40-man roster in the offseason and appeared in 13 games last season. Tasked with low-leverage innings, Peguero posted a 7.27 ERA in 17 1/3 innings. He only struck out 15.6% of opponents, but he got swinging strikes on a more impressive 12% of his total pitches. The native of the Dominican Republic induced grounders in about half of the batted balls he gave up in the majors.

He also had an outstanding year in Salt Lake, pitching 44 1/3 frames of 2.84 ERA ball. Peguero fanned 27.5% of the batters faced for a quality walk rate of 7.1% and collected a whopping 57.5%. Like Junk, Peguero relied primarily on a slider during his MLB appearance, though he throws much harder. Peguero’s slider averaged 91 MPH while his fastball was just north of 96. He turns 26 in March and also has two options left, so the Brewers can field him as an option of medium relief up and down while they wait that he can. translate his Triple A success against Big League opponents.

Seminaris went in the fifth round of the 2020 draft out of Long Beach State. A 6’0″ southpaw, he was not ranked among the top 30 prospects in the Anaheim system by Baseball America. He went through three levels of the minor leagues this year, showing well in High-A against younger competition, but struggling as he climbed the minor league ladder. In all, he worked 101 frames of 2/3 ball for a 3.54 ERA with a 22.1% strikeout rate and an 8.7% walk percentage. He is not on the 40-man roster, but will have to be added at the end of the 2023 season or exposed in the Rule 5 draft.

While Milwaukee clearly likes all three pitchers in their mid-20s, each are flexible depth options. Surely one of the main drivers of the deal for the Brew Crew was the reassignment of Renfroe’s strong arbitration projection. The payroll cut wasn’t the only impetus for the trade — the Brewers could have simply not tendered Renfroe last week if they had committed to getting his money off the books — but GM Matt Arnold and his staff decide to clean up some payroll while bringing in a few arms of scoring depth.

The Brewers are projected to have about $115 million in Roster Resource salary thanks in large part to an arbitration class that still includes Corbin Burns, Brandon Woodruff i Willy Adams, among others. That’s about $17 million ahead of this year’s opening day mark, and more roster shuffling figures will be on the horizon for Milwaukee. Dealing a complementary player like Renfroe doesn’t suggest the Brewers are about to flip any of Burnes, Woodruff or Adames this winter, but Milwaukee could consider switching second base. Kolten Wong or a depth initiator like Adrian Houser or Eric Lauer. They have already drawn some interest from the Mariners to Wong and are sure to contemplate various ways to try to balance the present and the future.

Milwaukee could dip into the lower reaches of the free agent corner outfield market to fill Renfroe’s absence, with Tyrone Taylor being the current favorite to play alongside Christian Yelich i Garrett Mitchell in the outfield. Highly recognized young players like Sal Frelick i Joey Wiemer could enter midseason, but it would be a surprise if the Brewers didn’t add at least one established veteran outfielder before Opening Day.

More to come

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