Would You Trade Padres’ Renfroe in Deal for Marlins’ Yelich?
By Dan Fappiano
It’s no secret that this offseason has been one of the slowest in recent memory. The Padres have done their best to stay active, trading for Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell and Freddy Galvis while signing Kazuhisa Makita and Craig Stammen. However overall, this Hot Stove season hasn’t been as exciting as past years.
Eventually the Hot Stove will heat up. Players do need to sign eventually. Team will begin to make big moves and shape their 2018 roster. Until then, there is still a bit of time to speculate.
For Padres’ fans, one of the most fun rumors surrounding the team has been their interest in Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich. Reported in mid-December by Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, many fans were excited to hear their team interested in such a prolific player.
Yelich has been in the MLB for the past five seasons, appearing in 643 games, hitting .290 with 59 home runs, 293 RBIs and 72 stolen bases. The Marlins outfielder has also won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.
Just 26 years old, Yelich fits in perfectly with the Padres rebuild. He’s also under team control until 2022 with a deal that never goes higher than $15 million a year. Young and controllable, Yelich is a star who, with Wil Myers, could help lead San Diego to the next level.
The prospect of Yelich playing on the West Coast certainly intrigued fans. Adding him to a young farm system certainly makes the team’s future look much brighter. However there is one glaring problem.
Unlike the trades of Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcel Ozuna, the Marlins aren’t looking to shed salary with Yelich. He is on an affordable deal, meaning that Miami would be looking for the best players available.
Both the Braves and Nationals have shown interest in the past and in both cases, their top prospect’s name has come up. It’s not super shocking to see the Marlins interested in Victor Robles (Nats) and Ronald Acuna (Braves), however it seems unlikely they’ll be moved. Yelich is a star, but moving one of those players drastically changes the future of the franchise.
The same holds true for the Padres. Yelich fits everything the team needs as they attempt to leave their rebuild as a proven star with an affordable contract. However there’s no way they’re going to move top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. to get him.
Surely San Diego has a deep enough farm system to pull off a trade, but when do they end talks and say enough is enough?
Instead of moving prospects of future, perhaps the Padres would consider moving a player who just reached the major leagues. Hunter Renfroe had his first cup of tea in the majors during the 2016 season, appearing in 12 games. But he finally broke through at the MLB level in 2017, appearing in 122 games and hitting .231 with 26 home runs and 58 RBIs.
Renfroe has plus plus power and could hit the ball to any part of the ball park. With the Marlins looking to replace Giancarlo Stanton, perhaps Renfroe could be their guy. This possibility became even more realistic follow a report from Marlins’ reporter Joe Frisaro.
Obviously it would cost much more than Renfroe to land Yelich. But as a player who has already reached the MLB level and almost hit 30 home runs, he would certainly hold some value.
The question then becomes, as a fan, if you were in a position to do so, would you trade Hunter Renfroe in a deal for Christian Yelich?
Christian Yelich is an absolute stud. He changes the game with both the bat and the glove, and would be a complete franchise difference maker. Yelich gives the team an All-Star caliber right/left fielder for the atleast the next four seasons.
On offense, Yelich has had at least 18 home runs and 81 RBIs the past two seasons. He has at least 10 stolen bases in all but one season in the major leagues. He is a dual threat weapon and is already well rounded. While Renfroe has more power, he isn’t the type of all-around hitter Yelich is, making the current Marlins’ outfielder a better fit.
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Pairing him with Manuel Margot in center gives the Padres one of the best defensive outfields in the MLB. Yelich has already won a Gold Glove whereas Margot has been lauded for his defense ever since his days as a prospect. Defense may be an underrated stat, but with Margot and Yelich the Padres will certainly have a lot of it in the outfield.
Trading Renfroe in a Yelich deal also opens up right field for the Padres to sign Eric Hosmer. In the case the All-Star does come to San Diego, Wil Myers would be pushed to the outfield. While Myers has spent time at all three positions, 159 of his 207 games in the outfield came in right. It might make more sense to acquire Yelich and play him in left if the team signs Hosmer, rather than have Myers play a position he’s only played seven games in full-time.
Overall, Yelich is just a much more well rounded player than Renfroe. He may not hit as many home runs, but he provides more with the bat and the glove than Renfroe does. He is on an affordable deal and makes the Padres better sooner.
Moving Renfroe is smart because the Padres give up a player who may never work out for a player who already has.
It wasn’t too long ago that Hunter Renfroe was one of the best prospects in baseball. Per MLB Pipeline, he was the 71st best prospect in the MLB in 2015 and the 41st best in 2016. Pipeline wrote:
"Renfroe has plus-plus raw power to his pull side, a product of his bat speed and physical strength and an upper-cut swing that’s conducive to clearing fences. He strikes out quite a bit because the approach is aggressive and he has some length to his swing that makes him vulnerable to quality secondary pitches on the outer half as well as advanced sequencing. The contact that Renfroe does make is consistently hard and loud, though, and he’s shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate at each level.Defensively, Renfroe’s arm strength is nearly as impressive as his power and makes him a clean fit in right field, where he notched 25 assists between the 2014-15 seasons. He’s athletic and moves well for his size, with average speed on the bases and range in the outfield."
He showed his potential during his time in the minors, hitting .288 with 81 home runs, 301 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. Clearly Renfroe has potential. He has massive power and could be a force at the plate if he finds his swing.
While Yelich is great, it may not make sense to trade Renfroe. At just 25 years old, Renfroe has the potential to hit 30+ home runs a year. It may make sense and let him hit cleanup for the next five years.
Moving a player like Renfroe also shows that A.J. Preller can’t stick to the plan. By moving Renfroe this early into his career, Preller is proving he does not have the patience to watch his young prospects develop.
Keeping Renfroe, and any other prospect moved in the deal, is imperative in future success. It might be good to get a player like Yelich, but Preller didn’t land all these prospects just to move them.
Renfroe isn’t Giancarlo Stantion, but he could be Stantion-lite if he can be a bit more consistent with the bat. He has amazing power from the right side and is a great fit in a lineup that already features Myers and Margot.
Christian Yelich might be greater, but there’s a chance Hunter Renfroe could develop into one of , if not the best power hitter in the league. Preller needs to stick to the plan and keep his young stars.
Christian Yelich is going to cost some team a boatload. He isn’t going to come cheap. If the Padres and Marlins continue to talk a deal, it’ll be interesting to see if Renfroe’s name comes up.
If so, the Padres will face a dilemma to whether or not they should trade him.
On the one hand, landing Yelich may be an opportunity they aren’t willing to pass up. He has proven himself with the bat and the glove. Adding Yelich makes the team better earlier and even if it costs Renfroe it may be worth it.
On the other hand, Renfroe has proven he has massive amounts of pop in his bat. The Padres could choose to hold on to him, hoping he continues to hit 30 home runs a year. Keeping him and any young prospect keeps the team’s plan in motion.
In the end, this is all hypothetical. If the two teams talk it’ll cost much more than Renfroe and there’s a chance his name doesn’t even come up.
However if it does, and the Marlins do ask the Padres for the former top prospect: would you trade Hunter Renfroe in a deal for Christian Yelich?