In a stunning turn of events, the Red Sox have traded outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton and a familiar face in Jackie Bradley Jr, the club announced late Wednesday night.
Renfroe, who turns 29 next month, originally signed a one-year deal with the Sox shortly after being let go by the Rays last December.
In his debut season with Boston, the right-handed hitter slashed .259/.315/.501 with 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 96 RBIs, 89 runs scored, 44 walks, and 130 strikeouts over 144 games spanning 572 relief appearances.
While seeing the majority of his playing time come in right field, Renfroe finished the year tied with Rangers rookie Adolis Garcia for the most outfield assists in the American League (16), but also led all big-league outfielders in errors committed with 12.
Upon signing with the Sox last winter, Renfroe earned $3.1 million in what was his first season of arbitration eligibility. MLB Trade Rumors projected that the 28-year-old would receive $7.6 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility in 2022, which obviously represents a significant raise from the amount he earned in 2021.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom must have felt that this price was too steep to pay, leading the club to deal Renfroe to the Brewers for a pair of prospects and an established veteran such as Bradley Jr.
Regarding the two prospects Boston acquired from Milwaukee, Binelas and Hamilton were regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 and No. 15 prospects in the Brewers’ farm system, respectively.
Binelas, 21, was selected by the Brewers in the third round of this summer’s amateur draft out of the University of Louisville.
A Wisconsin native, Binelas appeared in just seven Arizona Complex League games before earning a promotion to Low-A Carolina on August 16. He batted a stout .314/.379/.636 (136 wRC+) to go along with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts across 29 games (132 plate appearances) with the Mudcats.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the left-handed hitter can play both corner infield positions and well regarded for his power, as evidenced by his .322 ISO at Low-A this year.
Hamilton, 24, was also selected by Milwaukee in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin.
After not playing any affiliated baseball in 2019 and missing out on the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton made his professional debut for High-A Wisconsin this spring and ultimately made his way to Double-A Biloxi by early August.
In 33 games with the Shuckers, the left-handed hitting infielder produced a .248/.322/.414 slash line (104 wRC+) with five doubles, four triples, three homers, 12 RBIs, 16 runs, 11 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 32 strikeouts over 150 plate appearances while seeing playing time at second base and shortstop.
Unlike Binelas, Hamilton is not known for his power, but for his speed, as the 5-foot-10, 175 pounder has already stolen 52 bases through his first 101 games in the minor-leagues.
Neither Binelas nor Hamilton were immediately added to Boston’s 40-man roster, though the latter can become eligible for the 2022 Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the 40-man by next November.
Finally, we arrive at what is the most fascinating aspect of this deal in Bradley Jr., who the Red Sox, of course, took with the 40th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of the University of South Carolina.
After spending the first eight years of his big-league career with the Sox, Bradley Jr. became a free agent last winter and effectively signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Brewers in March.
Bradley Jr.’s first season with a new team did not go as swimmingly as it did for Renfroe. Despite remaining an elite defender in center field, the 31-year-old struggled at the plate to the tune of a .163/.236/.261 slash line with 14 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 29 RBIs, 39 runs, seven stolen bases, 28 walks, and 132 strikeouts in 134 games (428 plate appearances) with the Brewers.
By swapping Renfroe’s projected 2022 salary of $7.6 million for Bradley’s 2022 salary of of $9.5 million (plus an $8 million buyout in 2023), Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. — per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — took on about $10 million in additional salary to add Bradley Jr. and two promising prospects in Binelas and Hamilton.
In addition to acquiring Bradley Jr., the Red Sox also announced the signings of left-handers James Paxton and Rich Hill to one-year deals for the 2022 season, meaning their 40-man roster is now up to 39 players.
(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)