Could Hunter Renfroe Be the Odd Man Out?

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Word came down late on a Saturday night that the San Diego Padres came to an agreement with Eric Hosmer. The news was delivered, oh so subtly, by Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune.

Now that Hosmer is a Friar, he will become the team’s starting first baseman. Wil Myers will make a move to one of the corner outfield spots. Speculation over the offseason suggested that he would move to left field if he were to leave first base.

While it seems likely that Myers will be in left field when the season begins, it isn’t settled. And, as it turns out, signing Hosmer unsettles another issue for the Padres. They have a crowded outfield — again.

Think back to the 2015 season, when A.J. Preller constructed a roster full of All-Stars through trades and free agent signings. San Diego had Justin Upton in left, Myers in center and Matt Kemp in right. The Padres had several more outfielders on their 40-man roster and nowhere to put them.

Looking at the 2018 roster, the Padres have Myers, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jose Pirela, Alex Dickerson, Travis Jankowski, Matt Szczur and Franchy Cordero as outfielders on the 40-man roster.

Last season, all but Myers and Dickerson saw time in the outfield. Dickerson was on the disabled list the whole season, and Myers was the starting first baseman. Now that these two are competing for a spot in the outfield,

A.J. Cassavell reported on Feb. 18 that Myers would take fly balls in right field, He added that Pirela and Renfroe would compete for the starting job in left field.

Credit: AP Photo

This move could very well be a message to Renfroe. He has been uprooted from his job in right, and now is being told he will have to compete for another position. That’s probably not a good sign for the 26-year-old outfielder.

Renfroe was the subject of criticism last season. Most of that criticism was due to his performance at the plate. He hit 26 home runs, but had a 29.2 strikeout percentage in 2017. The team became concerned with this, and sent him down to Triple-A-El Paso last August. He returned to the Padres in September.

A scenario with Myers in left field created speculation about a battle at second base between Pirela and Carlos Asuaje. Early on in spring training, the only position battle mentioned has been in left field.

Pirela played in 83 games for San Diego last season, and spent a large majority of that time as the starting left fielder. He hit .280/.347/.490 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI. However, people were impressed most by his ability to hit ground balls. Pirela had a groundball rate of 47.3 percent.

Pirela made contact with pitches more often than Renfroe, had a higher walk percentage and didn’t commit any errors in left last season.

Renfroe has a strong arm and serious power. A strong throwing arm doesn’t mean much if he’s a less-than-average defender and inaccurate with his throws. Hit power doesn’t mean much if he can’t get the bat on the ball either.

Spring training just started, and we still have a long way to go before the MLB Opening Day. But it appears the message has been sent to Renfroe. Earn his way into the lineup, or his remaining days with this franchise could be limited.

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Mike Ursery
Sports editor for the Fayette Advertiser and Fayette Democrat-Leader in Fayette, Missouri. Proud alumnus of Missouri State University. Journalism major. Political science minor. Padre fan. My opinions are my own.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Agreed with the two posts so far, 100%. Myers is really the one who should be on notice. Give him one more year (or, in my opinion, trade him now if possible). Renfroe needs a little more time, moving him right now is absolutely stupid. This is a Rizzo situation all over again. Rizzo’s swing was horrible, and it was fixed. Renfroe’s swing is also fixable. I don’t care about Renfroe’s defense regardless if he’s hitting around .275, his power numbers and run production will look pretty awesome at that point.

  2. This organization has a habit of giving up on young power hitters that we draft or trade for way too early and then see them do well for other teams. Starting back in the 90’s with Derek Lee, who had a very good ML career for 15 years. Had 34.3 career WAR, .859 career OPS, and a career 122 OPS+. More recently Jason Bay, had 24.3 career WAR, .841 career OPS, and a career 121 OPS+ over a 11 year career. Our latest oversight was Anthony Rizzo, who so far has had 26.1 career WAR, .854 career OPS, and a career 130 OPS+ in his first 7 years.

    I know this is a new front office and ownership. It would be a total mistake to let Meyers get in Renfroe’s way. I believe that like the previous poster pointed out that it is Meyers who needs to have a monster year or he might find himself playing elsewhere. LF is where Meyers should start the year. If you want to let Dickerson if he is ready to go take some AB’s from Renfroe against very tough RH pitching that would be a good move. I believe that Renfroe will be fine, he is a STAR in the making. On the other hand Meyers has Franchy Cordero in his rear view mirror. Pirela will platoon with either Spangy or Asuaje at 2B for this season. But Urias is coming soon for that spot. Options are a good thing.

  3. In some ways Myers should be on notice too. He’s got protection in the lineup, so there are no excuses this season. None. Preller could try dangling him by pointing out his versatility.

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