Ideal addition to Guardians’ lineup signs with division rival

Cleveland Guardians v Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Guardians v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

It was a perfect opportunity for the Cleveland Guardians to add some much-needed power to their lineup that they let slip right through their fingers. Instead, it is the Kansa City Royals who are signing outfielder Hunter Renfroe, with the two sides agreeing to a one-year deal with a player option for the 2025 season. 

The 31-year-old outfielder does have a lot of swing-and-miss in his profile, striking out just over 25% of the time in his career. However, it is the consistent power that Renfroe brings that would have been of interest to the Guardians.

Renfroe has hit 20 home runs in every season except the 11 games played in 2016 and the abbreviated 2020 season. That’s a reliable power output that would have been a fantastic addition to the Guardians’ outfield. Instead, it is Kansas City getting the power boost that could come back to haunt Cleveland. 

The lack of notable activity this winter is not surprising but still very disappointing. Cleveland’s primary outfield trio of Steven Kwan, Myles Straw, and Will Brennan are not long ball threats by any means. In fact, there is a very good chance that Renfroe will finish with more home runs than Kwan, Straw, and Brennan combined.

Cleveland was not expected to make any splash moves this offseason outside of trading away a key player or two. But the deal Renfroe signed ($5.5 million in 2024 and $7.5 million via player option in 2025) should not be beyond their means. This was usually the type of deal the organization was expected to make. Instead, they have decided to sit on their hands and let lesser teams make the moves they should, closing the talent gap between the two organizations.

Renfroe is not necessarily the type of player who is going to raise the ceiling of a team like the Guardians and propel them to a lengthy playoff run. But he could have raised the talent floor, providing a solid baseline of production in the power department, and that could end up making a huge difference over the course of a 162-game season.

It would not at all be surprising to see Renfroe landing in Kansas City being a season-long talking point should the Guardians' outfield put together another lackluster home run total by season's end.