Why Chaim Bloom Is ‘Really Excited’ About Red Sox’s Hunter Renfroe Signing

Bloom explains why Boston added Renfroe to its outfield

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December 15, 2020

Everything came full circle Monday when the Red Sox signed outfielder Hunter Renfroe to a one-year contract.

No, Chaim Bloom wasn’t Boston’s chief baseball officer when the Red Sox drafted Renfroe in the 31st round back in 2010. (Renfroe didn’t sign with Boston and instead attended Mississippi State before being drafted in the first round by the Padres in 2013.)

Nor was the longtime Rays executive involved when Tampa Bay acquired Renfroe from San Diego in December 2019, having been hired to run Boston’s baseball operations department two months prior.

But Bloom clearly had eyes for Renfroe, a mashing outfielder capable of providing above-average defense, and therefore spoke glowingly of the 28-year-old Monday when asked about the Red Sox’s latest addition.

“We’re really excited to add Hunter Renfroe,” Bloom told reporters during a video conference. “He’s a very well-rounded player. The power is obvious, and that’s kind of been his main calling card throughout his career. But he’s more than a one-trick pony. He’s an athlete. He’s a really good defensive outfielder, so he should be able to contribute on both sides of the ball, and we feel his offensive game is really well made for Fenway Park.”

Renfroe is coming off a difficult season at the dish, batting just .156 with eight home runs, 22 RBIs and a career-worst .645 OPS in 139 plate appearances with Tampa Bay. He launched at least 26 home runs in each of his previous three full seasons with San Diego, though, including a career-high 33 long balls over 494 plate appearances in 2019.

It’s possible Renfroe will serve in a platoon role with Boston, having had much more success against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching throughout his MLB career. But Bloom isn’t ready to paint him with that brush just yet, suggesting Renfroe is capable of even more.

“There’s still a lot of offseason left, so we don’t know exactly how our outfield shapes up. I think that’s the beauty of him being such an athlete, is that there’s so many different ways he can contribute,” Bloom said. “We know that our other everyday outfielders are left-handed, so we add some balance to our outfield. He certainly has accomplished a lot against left-handed pitching in his career, but because of all the different things he brings to the table, he has the upside to be more than a platoon player. And he has the upside to be a regular contributor. He’s done that in the past in San Diego. It was a crowded outfield situation this year with the Rays, so he wasn’t able to do that. But the talent is there to be a really positive contributor more often than not.”

Fenway Park could prove quite advantageous for Renfroe, who’s under club control through 2023. He showed as much as a visitor in 2020, with Lansdowne Street beyond the Green Monster having the potential to be a frequent landing spot for balls off Renfroe’s bat.

“Obviously, talent is talent. But he should be able to mishit balls over the Green Monster,” Bloom said Monday. “Heck, we saw it this summer. He was playing in a different uniform, but he came in here and peppered the Mass Pike and he also hit balls into the bullpen. So he’s got the true power to be able to hit balls the other way out of here as a right-hander, and certainly more than enough power to hit and mishit balls over our left field wall.”

Bloom explained Alex Verdugo likely would be Boston’s starting center fielder with the roster as constructed, presumably sandwiched by Andrew Benintendi and Renfroe in left field and right field, respectively.

He also didn’t rule out the Red Sox adding to their outfield mix, either in center field or at a corner outfield spot. And it should be noted Jackie Bradley Jr. remains a free agent.

Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images
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