Could the Cubs take a look at a pair of former Tampa Bay Rays this offseason?
This season, the Chicago Cubs have limited capital to tie up some loose ends on the roster. Guys such as Billy Hamilton or Jason Kipnis could be a fit. But what about former Tampa Bay Rays Hunter Renfroe and Brian O’Grady? Renfroe you’ve heard of. O’Grady? Probably not.
Renfroe’s a guy like Kyle Schwarber. Big-time power, little average. Between 2017-2019, he hit 85 home runs with a slash line of .231/.291/.486/.777. In 42 games this year, he hit eight home runs with a woeful .156 average (76 wRC+). Schwarber hit 11 home runs with a .188 average in 2020 in 59 games, so it’s a push as far as performance goes.
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So why mention Renfroe? Because he’s going to take a pay cut, regardless of where he goes. At this point, most teams likely look at him solely as a platoon guy against lefties – against whom he’s found most of his success.
In 2020, his OPS against left-handers clocked in a .806, compared to a .561 mark against righties. In his career, Renfroe carries a .912 OPs against southpaws and a .717 mark against right-handers. Clearly, there’s a pretty dramatic split there that needs to be taken into account.
O’Grady was designated for assignment along with Renfroe over the weekend. O’Grady was drafted out of Rutgers by the Reds in the eighth round back in 2014. He made his big league debut in 2019 with Cincinnati and then appeared in just two games this year with Tampa Bay after joining the Rays via trade.
With the Triple-A club last year, O’Grady belted 28 home runs and drove in 77 to go along with a .280 average – far and away his best single-season performance to-date.
Personally, Renfroe makes more sense to me. He would help shore up the offense against lefties, something that was a major issue this year, and likely wouldn’t break the bank. I’d like to see the Cubs also hold on to Schwarber – I mean, they can always use him as a chip at the deadline next summer regardless.
As for O’Grady, it’s not a fit for the Cubs. There was a time I wouldn’t mind someone like this – but we’re past that point and the career .252 average in the minors isn’t exactly eye-popping.
We’ll see if Jed Hoyer and the Cubs kick the tires on Renfroe. While he would improve the team against southpaws, he strikes out a decent amount and they might look for a better bat-to-ball presence instead.