The Red Sox signed Hunter Renfroe. What now?
Monday afternoon, so many were trying to figure out how this latest piece fit in what is a very uncertain puzzle for the Red Sox 2021 roster. And at the top of the list when it came to deciphering Chaim Bloom's plan was the name of Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bloom wasn't going to tip his hand.
The Red Sox' Chief Baseball Officer surmised that Renfroe could be more than a platoon player. He is athletic. He can play center field if needed. All of that we were delivered.
"There is still a lot of offseason left so we don’t know exactly how our outfield shapes up," Bloom said. "I think that’s the beauty of him being such an athlete, is there are so many different ways he can contribute. We know that our other everyday outfielders are left-handed so he adds 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. He has the upside to be a regular contributor."
There was also the question regarding if the Red Sox could get by with this current group of outfielders -- Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo and Renfroe.
"The good thing is we have a number of outfielders who are all good enough athletes to play center field but we also still have room to augment that with a center fielder or a corner outfielder," the Sox' chief decision-maker added. "So we have options and different paths we can take, but it would be nice to be able to continue to increase our depth as we go forward."
Here is the Red Sox' current reality: Bradley Jr. is a better fit than ever.
While this current group of outfielders can indeed man centerfield, that doesn't mean such a scenario is optimum in the eyes of Bloom. One would think that he might be prioritizing a bit better defense at the position than any of the trio would represent.
Sure, Renfroe has played center field. But. nobody is going to suggest that this his best position. And, yes, Verdugo is currently a viable option. Yet the Red Sox aren't blind to the notion that his optimum spot is in right.
If the Red Sox want to consider Renfroe a slightly different version of Kevin Pillar -- a right-handed bat that can play a significant chunk of the time if things go poorly for any of the other outfielders -- than that's fair.
In other words, the dynamic that the Red Sox entered 2020 with when it comes to their outfielders -- with Bradley Jr. firmly entrenched in center -- is more than palatable. It's actually more appetizing considering you have increased confidence in what you're getting in Verdugo.
Here is the issue: Bradley Jr. has options.
With the proclamation that the Red Sox would be willing to give Renfroe a legitimate shot at regular playing time, the free agent centerfielder could very well prioritize a team that is identifying him as the no-holds-barred starter.
The teams being linked to Bradley Jr. are starting to pile up (whether real or not). We do know that the Astros are ready to make such a commitment, with whatever team among the Blue Jays and Mets missing out on George Springer also ready to pounce.
Even with the uncertainty of resources, the Renfroe signing (one year, $3.1 million) shouldn't impact what the Red Sox would allocate to the likes of Bradley Jr. But offering opportunity? That's what we don't know when it comes this team's approach.
This doesn't end the Bradley Jr. to the Red Sox conversation. He's still too good a fit. But a reunion did just get at least a bit more complicated ... just like everything else this offseason.