Tomase: Jackie Bradley Jr DFA makes Renfro deal even worse originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
If the analytics revolution is about putting players in the best position to succeed, have the Red Sox let Jackie Bradley Jr down?
Of all the moves Haim Bloom has taken since becoming baseball’s chief officer in 2019, the Bradley trade may be the worst. Since the Red Sox re-acquired an experienced outfielder for Hunter Renfro last winter, they’ve been asking too much of him, and now he’s taking the blame for an imperfect lineup.
boston globe broke the news that Bradley had been assigned to the mission Thursday, and judging by his numbers, it’s hard to argue. Bradley hits .210 with .578 OPS, which ranks him 193rd out of 199 players who have played at least 275 games.
But take a step back and it becomes clear that the Red Sox have put Bradley at a disadvantage. After signing a two-year, $24 million contract and then posting a career-worst record with the Brewers, Bradley returned to Boston (A) to help find two leads in exchange for Milwaukee dropping his salary and (B) to serve as fourth player. outfielder/defender substitution.
No one expected him to become a full-time player, and yet he opened the season as a starting right fielder and then essentially stayed there until purchase this week Tommy Fam made it belatedly expendable.
Some of his extended playing time was out of necessity after Quique Hernandez suffered a serious hip injury in early June, but it mostly reflected a horrendous lack of planning. Bradley currently ranks fourth with the Red Sox in games played just behind Bobby Dulbeck, which explains a lot.
The Renfro trade would only make sense in 2022 if the Red Sox add a right fielder who starts from the right field and replaces his significant scoring (.251-31-96 last year), with Bradley available against a right serve and as one of the the best defensive replacements in the game.
Not only did they fail to meet this apparent need in March when the off-season resumed after the lockout, they ignored it until August when they finally acquired Pham from the Reds.
Combined OPS of Red Sox right fielders (2022)
OPS Hunter Renfro (2022)
In the meantime, they called up Triple-A Worcester’s Jarren Duran and made him their starting center fielder, although he has trouble tracking volleys at dusk. Once again, they failed to make the most of Bradley’s skills, leaving him alongside the superior Duran. A formation of Duran on the left, Bradley in the center and Alex Verdugo on the right would have served them better than seeing Duran. treat Grand Slams in the park with indifference.
It wasn’t until Pham showed up that they finally moved Verdugo to the right. Now they’re committed to Duran, who, if anyone hasn’t noticed, is batting just .135 with 31 strikeouts in his last 20 games. Given his defensive limitations, it’s hard to argue that he’s better than Bradley at the moment.
Either way, Renfro’s deal looks monstrous today. While selling high on the slugger made some sense, the trade weakened the offense considerably because Bloom never made extra moves. Despite missing 30 games with calf and hamstring injuries, Renfro still has 19 homers and an .806 OPS with the Brewers. He hit home twice on his return to Boston over the weekend.
The prospects received by the Red Sox, which were indeed the key to the deal, look dull. Speed player David Hamilton stole 50 bases in 54 chances with Portland, but he only hit .231 and didn’t even make the organization’s top 30 list by Baseball America.
Meanwhile, the more publicized Alex Binelas continues to show brute strength with 22 homers, but he’s hitting just .139 in 27 games since joining Portland. A third baseman who looks more like a first baseman or DH is registered as number 22 on the BA list.
The future of the Renfro trade is now completely in their hands because Bradley is no more. He could fit well with a lineup that now has nowhere to turn for late innings defense. But instead, the Red Sox asked him to be something he just isn’t, and now he’s paying the price.