Friday was the deadline for teams to protect prospects from the Rule V draft and as a casualty of it, the Tampa Bay Rays cut outfielder Hunter Renfroe. Should the Colorado Rockies pursue him for 2021?
In a bit of a surprising move, the reigning American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays designated outfielder Hunter Renfroe for assignment since they needed the 40-man roster space to protect some of their prospects. While he had a down season in 2020, some teams, including the Colorado Rockies, might be interested in having him on their team in 2021.
Renfroe, who will turn 29 in January, was acquired by the Rays last offseason in the trade that saw Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth go to the Padres in exchange for Renfroe and two minor league prospects.
In 42 games for the Rays, he hit .156/.252/.393 with eight home runs, 22 RBI, and an OPS+ of 77. However, in his three seasons with the Padres (he played 11 games in 2016 which we’re not counting for this), he hit 26 home runs twice and 33 home runs in 2019.
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In those three seasons, he averaged 126 games played and he hit .231/.291/.486 with 28 home runs and 63 RBI. The batting average and on-base percentage leave a bit to be desired but you also have to consider that those numbers were posted while playing half of his games at Petco Park, a notorious pitchers park. That’s why his OPS+ was above league average in that span at 106.
In his time playing at Coors Field (16 games and 65 plate appearances), he has shown similar numbers (low average and OBP but a high slugging percentage) as he is a career .238/.262/.683 at Coors with 9 home runs (out of 15 total hits) and 17 RBI.
Also, the former top prospect (he was MLB.com’s #42 prospect entering 2017) is an excellent defensive outfielder. In 2019, according to FanGraphs, he had 23 Defensive Runs Saved. He was also at or above league average in every season but 2020 (-1 DRS). He also plays well into what the Rockies have been trying to do with most of their players in recent years: make them versatile. In addition to playing the outfield, he played a few games at first base for the Rays in 2020.
The Rockies current outfield hasn’t had a full season with someone with average or above-average defense and average or above-average offense in a long time and, with a projected $3.5 million salary in 2021 while being first-time arbitration eligible this offseason (since the Padres held him in the minors for a few weeks to hold back his service time), he could provide the Rockies with some help on the relatively cheap for years to come … and all they have to do is claim him off of waivers.