Hunter Renfroe has been around long enough to be able to read the handwriting on the wall.
Due a 2023 salary expected to be somewhere north of $11 million in his final year of arbitration and with a group of highly touted outfielders knocking on the door of the major leagues, the right fielder wasn’t really surprised Tuesday night when he learned he had been traded to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for three pitching prospects.
“Unfortunately, we were kind of expecting it,” Renfroe said Wednesday. “The nature of the beast is it’s a you-get-too-expensive type of deal for a team like Milwaukee – especially with Brandon (Woodruff) and Corbin (Burnes) and those guys set to make close to $11 million as well.
“It’s kind of the nature of a middle-market team; they’ve got a price they have to keep within, so somebody had to go and I kind of knew I might be the odd man out. Sucks, but I loved my time in Milwaukee and love those guys.
“I expect to have a great year with the Angels and look forward to the adventure there.”
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Renfroe’s stay with Milwaukee was short but productive.
Acquired Dec. 1 from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. and a pair of minor-leaguers, Renfroe was arguably the Brewers’ most consistent offensive contributor by batting .255 with 29 home runs and 72 runs batted in while compiling an OPS of .807.
He was also an impactful player defensively, logging 11 assists, the most by a National League outfielder, in 1,043⅔ innings.
Despite that productivity, Renfroe now finds himself facing the prospect of suiting up for his fifth team in the last five seasons while the Brewers will utilize the likes of Tyrone Taylor, Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer and Esteury Ruiz.
“It’s weird,” said Renfroe. “Especially when you’re in arbitration. It’s not like you were a one-year free agent guy. You’re in the part of your career where most people have a little bit of normalcy and stay with a team for a little while. But I guess that’s the nature of baseball, where it kind of keeps you thinking and keeps you wondering.
“It’s part of it; we knew it going into it. But it always sucks when you have to go to a new team and make new friends. I’ve never been really good with names, but I guess I’ve got to figure it out out quickly.”
At the very least, Renfroe will now be able to play alongside two of the game’s pre-eminent talents in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout with the Angels.
He will also be reunited with left-hander Aaron Loup, a former teammate with San Diego and Tampa Bay who is also his next-door neighbor in Mississippi.
“It’s exciting for us to be together on a team again,” Renfroe said. “To be with Trout and Ohtani and those guys, it’s pretty exciting. They have high expectations every year and we’ll see how it turns out. (Angels general manager Perry Minasian) said they weren’t done yet, so we’ll see what it brings.”
While the fan backlash wasn’t quite as strong as it was when the Brewers traded Josh Hader in August, it was still notable on social media with the overriding theme the franchise is cutting corners financially and is no longer willing to spend the money necessary to compete at the highest level.
Renfroe was asked for his take after his year with the organization.
“I’ve been a part of some rebuilds, so I understand the way of going about things. But I’ve never considered myself a GM by any means,” he said. “I’m not that intellectually smart. I’ve never played fantasy football or done anything like that, so I can’t even begin to understand that. I see where (GM Matt Arnold) is coming from, where he wants to get the younger talent out there and give them a chance to develop as MLB players and that kind of thing.
“But at some point you do have to have some guys like a Christian Yelich or a Jace Peterson or a Brandon Woodruff to take those guys under their belt, and why not do it while you’ve got them under control? But I understand it It’s not necessarily a great thing when you lose some guys. It never is. Like when you lose (Josh) Hader, who’s one of the best relievers. But it’s part of the business.
“It’s kind of one of those things where you sell high, when those guys are doing really well, and you try to get as much as you can for them. I understand that part of the game. It’s just one of those things where that’s one way to build up your farm system to better your team in the long run. I understand it. It sucks.
“Part of the game, and that’s kind of why I’ve been moved around so much, I believe.”
Brewers add outfield depth
The Brewers bolstered their outfield depth Wednesday by signing Blake Perkins to a one-year contract.
Perkins, 26, is a 2015 second-round pick of the Washington Nationals who batted .246 with 15 homers, 50 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 101 games split between Class AA Somerset (71 games) and Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ( 30 games) in the New York Yankees organization.
Perkins is also a switch-hitter capable of playing all three outfield spots. He has not yet made his major-league debut.
Milwaukee’s 40-man roster stands at 38.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hunter Renfroe not surprised by trade by Brewers trade to Angels