The San Diego Padres are said to be shopping around their outfielders, but they should keep Hunter Renfroe.
Despite numerous declarations that the Padres are in the market to trade for roster upgrades versus acquiring talent through free agency and possessing a rich farm system capable of acquiring just about anyone he wants, general manager A.J.Preller has refrained from making a blockbuster trade this off-season, so far. The need of the offseason for the San Diego Padres is starting pitching and both Preller and Andy Green have stated that trading for a top of the rotation starter is on the agenda this winter, to aide a young pitching group. However, as per this writer, one name that must stay out of trade negotiations is Hunter Renfroe.
San Diego drafted Renfroe with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft and was once considered one of the top prospects in baseball. Since making his Major League Baseball debut in 2016, he has yet to fulfill that potential, failing to play injury-free through a complete season and being sent back to AAA for development stints in each of his last two seasons.
In his rookie year, Renfroe slashed .231/.284/.467 with an OPS of .751 in 122 starts. He finished the season with 26 home runs, a Padres rookie-record, however, produced below league-average in most metrics. He made significant strides as a hitter in the latter half of 2018 and finished the season with slightly above-league-average numbers, .248/.302/.504 slash and a 114 wRC+. The second-year outfielder matched his rookie home run production in 28 fewer plate appearances.
San Diego Padres must trust Hunter Renfroe to come through.
Considering all of the above, it is easy for the Padres front office to put Hunter Renfroe on the trading block, especially with a crowded outfield situation, a recent surgery to the knee of Franmil Reyes, and a ballooning contract of Wil Myers. But is giving up on a first-round draft pick who made gains in just his second season of big league play “trusting the process?”
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In Hunter Renfroe, this writer sees the potential of an Antony Rizzo type situation, who the San Diego Padres traded away in 2012 for Andrew Cashner. If the Friars end up trading Hunter Renfroe for another pitcher, history would repeat itself. We all know how Antony Rizzo has played a dominant role in Chicago’s resurgence. Even Jedd Gyorko, now slugging home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals, continues to haunt the Padres whenever the two square off on the field.
For the San Diego Padres to reach the post-season, they will have to rely on a lot of young players to step up and perform. If Renfroe manages to find himself consistent playing time, the batting numbers will eventually start to swell, just like they did over the second half of 2018 when he was finally given regular at-bats.