Those excited about the prospects for the Milwaukee Brewers will likely be on board with the action the team made on Tuesday night.
Right fielder Hunter Renfro — Milwaukee’s best offensive player this past season — has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels, which could open a path for The trio of Sal Frelick, Esteury Ruiz, and Joey Wiemer for earning playing time at the major league level in 2023.
Returning to the Brewers in the deal are three pitchers: right-handers Janson Junk, Elvis Peguero, and left-handers Adam Seminaris.
“Look, I think what he’s doing is he’s giving a lot of opportunities to the players here,” said general manager Matt Arnold. “The number of players who are here to compete – be it on Opening Day – is yet to be determined. We have a long way to go between now and then.
“But we’re excited about this group and feel really good about our mix of overseas players going into the 2023 season.”
Renfrew, who will turn 31 on Jan. 28, was awarded a contract last week by the Brewers as he enters his final year of refereeing eligibility.
Expectations put him in a deal worth over $11 million, a number Milwaukee likely isn’t comfortable considering how well Frelick, Ruiz and Wiemer will do in Class AAA Nashville in 2022.
Ruiz is already on the 40-man roster while Frelick and Weimer haven’t made their major league debuts. The Brewers also have Tyrone Taylor in the mix.
Asked about the payroll side of the trade, Arnold suggested it was about trying to bolster a pitching squad — especially the rotation — that was very heavy and without much depth last season.
“Honestly, from our perspective, it’s really about increasing our organization and dealing from a position of strength,” he said. “Anytime we have a conversation, we want to make sure you have depth, and we felt like we had that depth on the field. And then, it was also nice to be able to increase the depth of the promotion.
“We feel good about it from both perspectives.”
Despite a pair of stints on the hit list, Renfroe hit . 25 with 29 runs while driving in 72 runs with an OPS of . 807, providing a consistent batter in a lineup that was at times maddeningly inconsistent.
Now, the Brewers will rely on a group of younger, less capable players to produce.
“That’s always the trade-off,” Arnold said. “Hunter has done a really good job for us this year. We’ve seen glimpses of guys like Garrett Mitchell at the end of the season, what Tyrone Taylor has done for us this season, and there are so many other guys in the mix that we’re excited about.
“We will definitely miss Hunter, but these guys and others in the upper echelons of our system feel good about increasing our playing field in 2023 and beyond.”
The Angels will be Renfrew’s fifth team in five seasons. He came to the Brewers last December 1 in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. and junior players Alex Pinellas and David Hamilton.
Junk, who turns 27 on January 15, is 1-2 with a 4.74 earned run average and a WHIP of 1.42 in seven appearances (six starts) for the Angels in 2021 and 2022. He struck out a total of 21 batters in 24 innings pitched.
In 16 outings at Class AAA Salt Lake City in 2022 (15 starts), Junk was 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29 while striking out 69 in 73 innings pitched.
“Anise Jenk is a good young man’s arm,” said Arnold. He came from the Yankees to the Angels two years ago. He has a four-pitch combination and is a solid young starter. We think he has a chance to compete for a spot in our potential rotation.
“He’s a guy who shows flashes in the (Angels) system and he’s moved quickly, so we’re excited about what he can bring as a role contributor in 2023.”
Peguero, who turns 26 on March 20, is 0-1 with a 9.16 ERA and a WHIP of 1.93 in 16 relief games in 2021 and 2022. He struck out 12 in 19 innings pitched.
He was 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA and a WHIP of 1.06 in 38 games in Salt Lake City with 50 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched.
“Elvis Pajero is another high-octane arm we get excited about with the big stuff,” Arnold said of the 6-foot-5, 208-pounder, who averaged 96.4 mph in 13 games with the Angels in 2022. “He did a really great job last year at Triple-A and showed good flashes and ups.”
Junk and Peguero both have minor league options remaining, giving the Brewers added flexibility in their offer.
Seminaris, who completed 24 on Oct. 19, went 7-11 in 24 appearances (21 starts) with a WHIP of 1.43 among the advanced Class A, Class AA, and Class AAA levels in the Angels system this past season. He struck out 97 in 101 innings pitched.
“Adam Seminaris is a left-handed young starter and another youngster who moved quickly, and he is the fifth player of the 2020 edition,” said Arnold. “He’s already made it to Triple-A and has a mix of four to five courts, which gives him a wide variety of weapons to be able to take out guys.
“Between those three, we feel really good about isolating the weapons we already have at the major league level.”
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This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hunter Renfroe’s brewers’ trade opens the door to the team’s best prospects