Hunter Renfroe among DFAs in Rule 5 roster shuffles
Friday was a big roster day for baseball as it was the deadline for minor leaguers to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. The Red Sox, in case you missed it, added Bryan Mata, Jay Groome, Connor Seabold, Jeisson Rosario, Hudson Potts, Connor Wong and Eduard Bazardo to the 40-man with Kyle Hart, Matt Hall and Ryan Weber losing their spots. Other teams around the league had to make similar decisions, and as a result a handful of interesting players were designated for assignment to make room on their former rosters. There are three I want to highlight as potential targets for Boston, whether via waiver claim or waiting until they clear and signing them in free agency.
We’ll start with Hunter Renfroe, who the Rays designated on Friday. The former Padre had just finished up his first season with Tampa Bay, but things didn’t go too well. Thanks to a batting average on balls in play below .200 as well as some contact issues, he finished the year with a 76 wRC+, the worst mark of his career. Looking at his entire career, though, the 28-year-old (he’ll turn 29 before spring training begins) has been roughly a league-average hitter, and has rated anywhere from around average to near-elite in right field.
I’ve personally never been a huge fan of Renfroe, largely because of the contact issues, but your mileage likely varies based on how you rate his defense. If you believe the 2019 ratings that had him in that near-elite range, then he could make some sense as a fallback option for Boston that would allow them to plug him into right and move Alex Verdugo to center field. It wouldn’t be an impact signing, but Renfroe would provide some pop, hopefully some defense, and would theoretically keep Andrew Benintendi in left field.
Sticking in the division, it seemed the DFA that people on the ol’ interwebs were most surprised by was Renato Núñez, who was designated by the Orioles. Contrary to Renfroe, Núñez is coming off his best ever season at the plate, finishing 2020 with a 119 wRC+. Like Renfroe, though, he’s been roughly league-average looking at his entire career. The 26-year-old (he’ll turn 27 shortly after Opening Day) is like Renfroe as a power hitter with some contact issues, but defensively he’s largely limited to first base at this point.
Although I would like to see some insurance added at that position in case Bobby Dalbec’s strikeouts turn into a big issue, I think it makes more sense for that insurance to come from the left side. Núñez is a right-handed bat.
And finally, on the pitching side, the Pirates designated righty Trevor Williams. Williams might be most known in some corners for his online presence, but he’s also had some flashes on the mound. The last couple of years, though, have been rough. In 2020 he finished the year with 11 starts and a 6.18 ERA, and that came off the heels of a 5.38 ERA in 2019. Williams isn’t a bit strikeout pitcher, but his biggest issue over the last couple seasons has simply been that he’s a home run machine. The 28-year-old (he turns 29 in late April) has allowed 42 homers over the last two seasons in 37 starts. As a minor-league signing who could compete for a spot in camp I would be fine with it, but anything more I’d prefer to look elsewhere.
Dodgers interested in Nolan Arenado?
This one seems to be unlikely at this point so we won’t spent too much time on it, but Nolan Arenado may want out of Colorado and the Dodgers, according to Jon Morosi, could be interested. Sure. Why not? It would appear at this point that the Rockies will not want to trade their franchise icon within the division, but if that’s the only deal available maybe that could change. As someone whose favorite non-Red Sox player in all of baseball is Arenado, I wouldn’t mind seeing him on a championship contender.