Does Hunter Renfroe bring all that much to the KC Royals?

Kansas City acquired their first significant bat of the winter Friday. But how good is he?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Hunter Renfroe, the veteran big league outfielder the KC Royals brought into their fold Friday, split the 2023 season between the Angels and Reds. Without knowing more about the circumstances, reasonable to assume would be that he moved from Los Angeles to Cincinnat at the trade deadline. The Reds were, after all, leading the National League Central as the Aug. 1 deadline day dawned, and picking up a power bat like Renfroe's would have been a logical move.

But that wasn't the case. Instead, the Reds claimed Renfroe off the waiver wire 30 days after the deadline passed and at a time when their hopes of returning to postseason play for the first time since the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, and for only the second time since 2013, were evaporating. In just a month, Cincinnati had tumbled from first to third and its playoff chances weren't good.

And Renfroe didn't help. The Reds released him three weeks after acquiring him; he hit .128 and homered just once in 14 Cincinnati games. The silver lining, if there was one for Renfroe, was that, combined with the 19 homers he clubbed for Los Angeles, he reached 20 for the sixth time in his eight-year major league career. His season .233 average, though, fell far short of encouraging, and unfortunately was too close to his career mark of .239.

What, then, moved the Royals to sign him?

Things Hunter Renfroe offers the KC Royals

First and foremost, Renfroe is a power hitter who can provide more pop to a Kansas City lineup in need of just that. Only twice in his big league career has he failed to hit at least 20 homers, but he can be excused for coming up short in both of those seasons — he hit four after debuting with San Diego in 2016, but did it in only 11 games and 35 at-bats, and he hit eight in 2020 but did so while playing in 42 of that season's 60 games.

He'll begin the 2024 campaign with 177 home runs, 162 doubles, and 454 RBI.

Renfroe will also provide a veteran presence to a Kansas City outfield short on significant experience. Among the outfielders on the club's current 40-man roster, Kyle Isbel has parts of three seasons under his belt, MJ Melendez has been learning to play the corners for two years, Edward Olivares has played only 230 games over parts of four years, Nelson Velázquez has 130 games, Drew Waters worked in 98 games in 2023 after playing 32 times the season before, Dairon Blanco boasts just 74 appearances in The Show, and Tyler Gentry hasn't seen the majors at all.

Renfroe, on the other hand, counts 841 big league contests on his resume, including 688 in right field and 125 in center. And because the Royals have designated hitters aplenty, expect their newest outfielder to spend a good bit of time in right, and maybe even left.

Renfroe's glaring downside is, as Kings of Kauffman's Jacob Milham points out, providing Renfroe's -9 career OAA as proof, his glove. His .970 fielding percentage is also well below average.

All things considered, then, does Renfroe bring all that much to Kansas City? He'll arrive with a package of power and experience, but one weighed down with defensive liability. But that may be enough to boost the club's chances to crawl out of the American League Central cellar next season.

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