The St. Louis Cardinals head into the All-Star break needing a game changer in their lineup. How about a trade deadline deal with the San Diego Padres?
The 27-year-old Renfroe is a corner outfielder in an organization that has a surplus of outfielders. Recently, Ken Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic are reporting that Renfroe is drawing interest from other clubs, and the Padres are open to a trade.
According to the reports, the Padres are interested in upgrading at centerfield, behind the plate, and would like to add a few young arms to their minor league system. So, therefore, this makes the right-handed bat of Renfroe expendable in the Padres eyes.
Why would Hunter Renfroe be a game changer for the Cardinals?
That’s the million dollar question.
Playing approximately half his games in a stadium which is considered an extreme pitchers park, Renfroe hit 26 home runs both in 2017 and 2018. His 27 home runs, so far in 2019, would lead the Cardinals followed by Ozuna’s 20 and Goldschmidt’s 16. His 49 RBI would only trail Ozuna’s 62 on the Cardinal ballclub and his .921 OPS would lead the team, with Ozuna’s .847 coming in second.
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Renfroe’s strength seems to lie against left-handed pitchers. In his career, he has a .304 BA and an OPS of 1.158. His achilles heel has been his On Base Percentage which sits at .299 over his four-year career. However, he has improved it over the last two years from .284 in 2017 to .308 in 2019. Still not great and that would put him below Carpenter (.325) and Wong (.327).
Still, in 2019, Renfroe is offensively having the best year of his young career. At the All-Star break, he already has career highs in HR, BA, SLG, OPS and his slash line sits currently at .252/.308/.613.
Looking at the Defensive side.
Although his defense has been a weakness in the past, in 2019, Renfroe has improved significantly. Playing primarily in the corner outfield spots, he is actually beginning to receive some gold glove talk.
Thus far he has a Rtot of 8, an Rdrs of 10, and a Rtot/yr of 17. This is an impressive improvement over his 2018 numbers of -4, 5, and -5 in the same metrics. Keep in mind, Rtot, Rdrs, and Rtot are metrics that measure defensive performance with 0 being average.
What would it cost the Cardinals?
As stated earlier, the Padres would like to upgrade at centerfield, catching prospects, and pitching in their organization. The Cardinals are currently well suited to address those needs.
If anything, the Cardinals are loaded up or some may say overloaded with promising outfield prospects. Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, Randy Arozarena, and Dylan Carlson are currently the most promising in the Cardinal organization. If the Cardinals sign Marcell Ozuna to an extension and Dexter Fowler’s contract carries on for a couple of more years, some of these prospects may be blocked from becoming an everyday player in St. Louis.
With Andrew Knizner having been named Yadier Molina‘s successor, Ivan Herrera is a catching prospect who may never see St. Louis. Currently at Peoria in the A Midwest League, the 19-year old Herrera has risen steadily from the Dominican League in 2017 to the Gulf Coast League in 2018 before landing with the Chiefs this year.
Every MLB club could use more pitching and the Cardinals could deal some if needed. Some of their top pitching prospects include Genesis Cabrera, Ryan Helsley, Junior Fernandez, and Austin Gomber, who all currently sit at Memphis.
Obviously, a trade for Hunter Renfroe wouldn’t mean trading all these prospects away, but packaging two of these might be worthwhile for the Cardinals and attractive for the Padres.
As far as Renfroe’s contract is concerned, he is currently making $582,00 this year and will be arbitration eligible next year, but not a free agent until 2024.
The current Cardinal outfield is not producing offensively. Harrison Bader is in a slump and may end up back in Memphis before the season is out. We know Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, or Randy Arozarena can hit AAA pitching, but not sure if they can do it in the majors. In addition, Dylan Carlson is in Springfield and might be a couple of years away.
With Marcell Ozuna out until further notice, his return may be too late to help the Cardinals. Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter, and Paul DeJong are hitting below expectations and no one is sure when they will start hitting consistently.
The St. Louis Cardinals need offensive help right now and keep in mind, there is no Manny Machado available this year. Therefore, Hunter Renfroe may be the best available game changer they need. His ability to hit the long ball and his .921 OPS would give this lineup a desperately needed offensive charge.
In my opinion, he would be an affordable acquisition for the Cardinals. Whether John Mozeliak will make a move such as this, I can’t tell you. However, this is the type of move that could energize the offense and propel the Cardinals to the postseason. In other words, Hunter Renfroe could be the game changer for the St. Louis Cardinals.