With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire at midnight tonight, transactions are going to freeze with it. The Boston Red Sox have done some work in their rotation by signing Michael Wacha, James Paxton, and Rich Hill in the last week. Well, they’ve squeezed in one last transaction before the lockout goes into effect, and it’s a doozy. The team announced late Wednesday night that they have traded Hunter Renfroe to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. as well as prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton.
The idea of trading Renfroe is one that we have discussed a few times this winter, and it makes sense from one perspective. The right fielder was a valuable player for the Red Sox in 2021, hitting .259/.315/.501 for a 114 wRC+ to go with good defense in right field. That said, he’s something of a volatile profile that runs streaky, and the idea of selling high on him makes some sense. That’s especially true since they have Alex Verdugo who can slide back into center field.
The question is whether or not they got enough back to justify the deal. The man who will make the headlines in this deal is certainly Bradley, and from a sentimental standpoint it’s great to have him back in Boston. He had a real connection with the city while he was here, and of course provided all-world defense in center field. However, he just spent the 2021 season in Milwaukee and was quite literally in the conversation for worst hitter in baseball. Bradley hit .163/.236/.261 for a dismal 35 wRC+ over 428 plate appearances. Given that performance, it’s hard to hand him an everyday role, and he’ll likely spell Enrique Hernández on days off. If Bradley proves he has bounced back at the plate, perhaps this provides more room for Hernández to cover second base.
But Bradley is just part of the equation, and the prospects are really the driver behind making this deal for Boston. Binelas was a third round pick by the Brewers in this past summer’s draft, being taken out of Louisville. A corner infield who can play both first and third base, the 21-year-old spent most of his pro debut in A-Ball, hitting .314/.379/.636. Hamilton, meanwhile, is a shortstop who was selected in the eighth round by the Brewers back in 2019. He’s mostly known for his glovework, but had a solid year in the plate in 2021, hitting .258/.341/.419 as a 23-year-old splitting time between High-A and Double-A.
We’ll have more on this trade in the morning, but it is a wild and surprising way to head into this lockout.