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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, May 25, 2024

Keeping up with the 617: Homecoming


Minutes before the MLB owners and MLPA issued a lockout of the 2021 offseason over the expired Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Red Sox orchestrated a trade that received a questionable response from the fan base. Hunter Renfroe, one of the bigger offensive contributors for the team in 2021, is now a Milwaukee Brewer; in compensation, the Red Sox receive Jackie Bradley Jr. (JBJ), a fan favorite in Boston, and two young prospects. Without examining the fine lines of the deal, this seems like a lopsided trade for the Red Sox. In 2021, Renfroe was a 2.3 WAR player with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs; JBJ could barely hit his weight in 2021 with a .163 AVG and -0.7 WAR. Although JBJ does provide a massive defensive value to a team's outfield, Renfroe was an average defender with a cannon of an arm; he had 16 defensive assists which led all MLB right fielders. By simply looking at statistics, the Red Sox gain nothing from this head-scratching trade.

However, Chaim Bloom is no rookie within this business; there was more behind this trade than just statistics. For instance, Renfroe had a career year in 2021, tallying career highs in almost every batting category imaginable. Additionally, he turns 30 next season and is known to be a streaky hitter. The Red Sox organization believed that a regression is inevitable for Renfroe, and wanted to sell his high market value this offseason.

Although JBJ headlined the return of this trade, the main prizes for the Red Sox were the two prospects they acquired: David Hamilton and Alex Binelas. Although these two players aren’t projected to be future Hall of Famers, they provide a boost to the Red Sox's improving farm system. Hamilton relies more on his speed and defensive game at shortstop, as he is mostly an average hitter. However, speed is something that the Red Sox currently lack, and I can see Hamilton being a utility bench player mostly used in pinch running situations. Binelas was a star at the University of Louisville and was selected in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft. His power profile is above average and he adjusted well to minor league baseball this summer. Chaim Bloom's specialty is stacking farm systems, and these two prospects give a solid boost to the minor league system.

If not accounting for the statistical perspective of this trade, the Red Sox made out like bandits. They receive a former piece of their championship teams and two intriguing prospects. Because JBJ is on the downslope of his career, he slots as the backup center fielder behind Enrique Hernandez. He'll provide solid defensive value to an otherwise average Red Sox outfield and become a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Additionally, with Renfroe now in Milwaukee, it seems that the Red Sox have more wiggle room to re-sign Kyle Schwarber, who was a catalyst in the team's postseason push in 2021. On a more emotional note, seeing JBJ in 2022 will bring nostalgia to me; he brought happiness and excitement to Red Sox nation with each highlight reel catch and clutch home run. He might not be an All Star in 2022, but he will still be loved by this fanbase. Welcome home, JBJ.