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The Boston Red Sox are expected to invest heavily in pitching this offseason, but their first major-league free agent signing is an outfielder. Boston inked Hunter Renfroe to a one-year contract on Monday, the team announced. He will make $3.1 million with bonuses that could push the total value to $3.7 million, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe.

Renfroe, 28, was the 13th overall pick by the Padres in 2013. He slugged 89 home runs in parts of four seasons with San Diego before being traded to the Rays in the Tommy Pham/Jake Cronenworth deal last offseason. Tampa Bay parted ways with Renfroe earlier this offseason, following a poor 2020 season that saw him muster a .685 OPS.

Hunter Renfroe
MIL • RF • #12
BA0.156
R18
HR8
RBI22
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In 432 career games, Renfroe has authored a .258/.339/.573 batting line against lefties and a .216/.268/.449 line against righties. Pairing him with a lefty swinging platoon partner would make sense. His righty power will be useful in a division that includes southpaws like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Blake Snell, Robbie Ray, Jordan Montgomery, Ryan Yarbrough, and others.

Renfroe's superb defense will come in handy in Fenway Park's tricky right field. The Red Sox are expected to lose Jackie Bradley Jr. to free agency, but could shift either Alex Verdugo or Andrew Benintendi to center field, with the other playing left and Renfroe in right. That allows J.D. Martinez to remain at DH, his best position. Their typical lineup could look something like this:

  1. CF/LF Alex Verdugo
  2. SS Xander Bogaerts
  3. 3B Rafael Devers
  4. DH J.D. Martinez
  5. C Christian Vazquez
  6. CF/LF Andrew Benintendi
  7. RF Hunter Renfroe
  8. 1B Bobby Dalbec
  9. 2B Michael Chavis

The Red Sox originally drafted Renfroe out of his Mississippi high school in the 31st round of the 2010 draft, but could not convince him to sign. Because he has fewer than four years of service time, Boston can retain Renfroe as an arbitration-eligible player in 2022 and 2023.

The Red Sox went 24-36 in 2020, their lowest winning percentage since 1965. The club re-hired manager Alex Cora soon after the season, once he finished serving his one-year suspension for his ties to the Astros sign-stealing scandal.