Boston Red Sox sign righty power bat Hunter Renfroe

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Hunter Renfroe #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays stretches prior to a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park on February 26, 2020 in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Twins defeated the Rays 10-8. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Hunter Renfroe #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays stretches prior to a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park on February 26, 2020 in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Twins defeated the Rays 10-8. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Red Sox have added Hunter Renfroe to their roster for 2021, giving them some right handed power off the bench.

Hunter Renfroe, or store brand Mike Trout as he came to be known in the 2020 playoffs, is heading to the Boston Red Sox in 2021.

Renfroe struggled in limited action with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020. In just 122 at bats, he slashed just .156/.252/.393 for an OPS of .645. But eight of his 19 hits left the ballpark.

The Red Sox are betting that 2020 was a down year for Renfroe. He proved to be a capable hitter for the San Diego Padres, but his time with the Rays in 2020 was a disappointment. The best case scenario is that he becomes a valuable platoon player against left handed pitching. The worst case, he’s a righty power bat and good defender off the bench with trade chip potential for another team willing to bet on an offensive bounce back.

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Renfroe’s signing also raises questions about the return of Jackie Bradley Jr. For years, Bradley Jr.’s name has been raised in trade proposals. He felt like the perfect candidate to free up money needed to sign Mookie Betts to a long-term extension.

Well, now the Red Sox don’t have a gold glove caliber outfielder in Betts to replace Bradley Jr. in centerfield. Sure, Renfroe, Alex Verdugo, and Andrew Benintendi are all capable fielders, but Bradley Jr. is arguably the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. If the Red Sox don’t re-sign him, his presence will be noticeably missed.

For the Red Sox, 2020 was as much as a lost year as it can get. After trading Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they finished last in the AL East with a 24-36 record. Signing Renfroe doesn’t get them anywhere close to competing for the division in 2021. They need to make drastic improvements to their starting rotation and bullpen to enter the realm of competitive baseball again. And thus far, they haven’t taken the steps needed to get back to the postseason.

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Hunter Renfroe is a nice signing for the Boston Red Sox. But they need to improve a lot more in other areas quickly for him to make a difference.