If the San Diego Padres do end up trading one of their corner outfielders, who will it be?
The offseason is fresh, yet the hot stove is already quickly heating up, including a number of rumors swirling around the San Diego Padres. Will the Padres pursue Yusei Kikuchi or other higher-profile rotation arms? Will Luis Urias be the Opening Day starting shortstop? Can fans expect to see any blockbuster trades? Time will tell, however, it appears that the most likely trade this winter may be of either Hunter Renfroe or Franmil Reyes.
When we started looking at different offseason options for the Padres, I mentioned that nearly every move seemed dependent on where Wil Myers plays in 2019. Both San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee and MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell have relayed a few comments from Padres camp that point to Myers moving back to the outfield and AJ Preller targeting an everyday third baseman via trade.
Assuming that this is the move for Myers and teams are as interested in Renfroe and Reyes as multiple reports suggest, which corner outfielder do you keep on the roster for 2019 and which one are you trading?
Both young bats showed impressive growth in 2018 for the San Diego Padres.
They are both young, powerful, took big steps forward last season, and were two of the top performers on offense. On the flip side, they are both defensive liabilities and neither has a proven track record to show us exactly what type of hitters they will be over the next five-plus seasons.
When Opening Day 2019 rolls around, Hunter Renfroe will be 27, while Franmil Reyes will be just 23. Both are right-handed hitters and both are strictly either left or right fielders, unless traded to an American League team where they could serve as premier designated hitters.
Let’s start with some key numbers from the former first-round pick of the Padres, Renfroe. Two full seasons into his major league career (with short stints in AAA sprinkled in), Renfroe had nearly the same amount of at-bats in each of his last two seasons (479 in 2017, 441 in 2018) but improved across the board. He improved to a .248/.302/.504/.805 slash line, finishing the 2018 season with a wRC+ of 114 and a 1.6 fWAR. While each of those numbers were big increases from 2017, they still amount to a slightly above average hitter.
On the other hand, Reyes ended his rookie season with a .280/.340/.498/.838 slash line, a 129 wRC+, and an fWAR of 1.2 in just 285 plate appearances. Called up on May 14th and spending an additional month in AAA in the middle of the summer, Reyes ended the season by becoming a fixture in the Padres lineup and best hitter on the roster. Who would have thought that a rookie recording a 40% strikeout rate to begin his career would emerge as a team leader in the ability to get on base?
Can’t score if you can’t get on base.
For the last few seasons, the Padres have finished at or near the bottom of the league in on-base percentage. It is the first thing this offense needs to focus on in 2019. Looking a little deeper in the .302 OBP of Renfroe, you see a hitter who is becoming much more selective.
Renfroe saw more pitches in the strike zone, but swung at fewer of them and increased his contact rate to 77% on these pitches (+3%). Same thing goes for his chase rate and contact on pitches out of the zone. He was more selective on first pitches, swung less overall, and whiffed on fewer hacks.
As for the barrel-hitting machine Reyes, Franmil recorded a lower chase rate, higher contact rate on pitches in the strike zone, was much more patient on first pitches and was about even with Renfroe in whiff rate.
Projections and final verdict.
The Steamer projections for the 2019 season are out and predict some very interesting numbers for a few different San Diego Padres players (more on that later this weekend). Take these projections how you may but let’s compare.
More from Friars on Base
- Jurickson Profar free agency update likely rules out Padres reunion
- Fernando Tatis Jr. may not take to outfield move after Xander Bogaerts addition
- Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. trade rumors, Seth Lugo chase, Manny Machado
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
- This veteran DH target seems ideal for contending Padres roster
Renfroe: .246/.297/.759, 27 HR, 103 wRC+, 25.3 K%, 6.1 BB%, 1.0 fWAR.
Reyes: .251/.319/.775, 28 HR, 110 wRC+, 25.5 K%, 8.8 BB%, 1.6fWAR.
Pretty even across the board, minus Reyes and his projected on-base percentage which is 22 points better than Renfroe. So, if the Padres do acquire a third baseman, move Wil Myers back into the outfield and deal one of these two, who are you keeping in next year’s lineup?
There are small differences in their games and at the end of the day, both project out further down the line to be 25-30 HR guys and produce at or just slightly above major league average results, overall. The unknown of how he will produce in his sophomore season is cause for concern, however, I would keep Franmil Reyes in this hypothetical scenario. More patience at the plate and pitch selectivity (which he continues to show in the Dominican league) and his age are two of the bigger factors in this decision. It is a tough decision, especially after begging Andy Green to include Renfroe in the lineup all season long and watching him produce when he finally was a lineup regular.
If you have to pick one to keep, who are you keeping?