The Cincinnati Reds picked up two players this afternoon, successfully claiming outfielders Harrison Bader and Hunter Renfroe on waivers according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. Renfroe was with the Los Angeles Angels and Bader had been with the New York Yankees. To make room for the two on the 40-man roster the Reds have designated outfielder Michael Siani and infielder Alejo Lopez for assignment.
Starting with Harrison Bader, the Reds are picking up an elite level defensive outfielder. When you look at his offensive number, though, you may be scratching your head. And that makes sense because in 84 games this year he’s hitting .240/.278/.365. That’s a tough sell as a good addition to a struggling offense.
But if you dive a little deeper you can see a fit beyond just a defensive replacement and pinch runner (he’s 17-for-19 in stolen bases this year and has plenty of speed). Bader has big splits at the plate this year. Most of playing time has been against right-handed pitching and he’s hitting .208/.243/.267 against righties this year. Against lefties this season he’s seen limited action – just 74 plate appearances – but he’s made them count. Bader is hitting .343/.392/.687 this season against lefties. Coming off of the bench to hit lefties or even to get starts against lefties seems like a good role for him.
Hunter Renfroe has been about a league average hitter this season. In 126 games he’s hit .242/.304/.434. That’s good for a 97 OPS+. He’s shown some good power this year in a pitcher friendly park in a division with several pitcher friendly parks. That power may play up in Cincinnati. Renfroe doesn’t really have big splits in terms of OPS – just a 20 point difference. But he has hit for a higher average (.264 to .235) against lefties. Most of his power, though, has come against right-handed pitching where his IsoP (SLG-AVG) is 207 points compared to just 142 against lefties.
Renfroe went into a big slump in August, posting a .590 OPS during the month. That dropped his season OPS from .772 down to .737. Unlike Bader, Renfroe isn’t exactly a good defender. He’s also not much of a baserunner, having stolen no bases this year and only has 14 of them in his 7-year career.
Cincinnati will pay the remaining salaries owed to both players this season. Both players will also be postseason eligible for the Reds should the team make it.