Why Can’t Hunter Renfroe get Called Up to the Big Leagues?

Hunter Renfroe continues to tear the cover off the baseball but the San Diego Padres keep leaving him in AAA El Paso.

It’s the end of July. I’m going to be completely honest with you, even though it won’t surprise anyone reading this, but finding stuff I enjoy writing about this time of the year isn’t easy.

Sure, I’ll soon dive into football team position breakdowns and other similar topics, but football still is about six weeks away, and I just am not ready to go there yet.

So while I was scrolling through Twitter, I noticed this gem from Jim Ellis.

Hunter Renfroe has been in the San Diego Padres minor league system since 2013. He has obliterated the pitching at every level, but he still doesn’t get a call up to the Big Leagues.

Making this more head-scratching is the fact the Padres aren’t good. The Padres are currently 41-55 and sit 16.5 games out of first place and 11.5 games out of the Wild Card picture. Things aren’t pretty.

You would think the Padres might want to find out what they have in Renfroe. Here is what their current outfielders have done this season.

  • Matt Kemp
    • Home Runs: 20
    • Batting Average: .255
    • RBIs: 63
    • Strikeouts: 89
    • Base on Balls: 13
  • Melvin Upton, Jr.
    • Home Runs: 16
    • Batting Average: .263
    • RBIs: 44
    • Strikeouts: 101
    • Base on Balls: 23
  • Jon Jay
    • Home Runs: 2
    • Batting Average: .296
    • RBIs: 23
    • Strikeouts: 36
    • Base on Balls: 16

None of those guys are putting up bad numbers, but they also aren’t lighting the world on fire. All three players are 31 years old, so the chances of them getting better aren’t high. They’re in the middle of what is supposed to be their prime. The Padres have two players who strikeout a whole lot and almost never walk in their outfield. They’ll hit some home runs, but they don’t bring a whole lot to the table. The third has a good average, but that’s about it.

It’s not unreasonable to think Hunter Renfroe could at least match the production of one of them, and most likely exceed the productivity of all three of them if given the chance.

So why isn’t he being given that chance? It has everything to do with money.

Major League Baseball has fully guaranteed contracts, and those three players are making a whole lot of money right now. Major League Baseball teams don’t like to pay tens of millions of dollars to players to see them sit on the bench.

Matt Kemp has one of the worst contracts in all of baseball. The Padres have to pay him $18.25 million every season through the 2019 season. That’s a total of $54.75 million he is owed by the Padres remaining on his current deal. The Dodgers who traded Kemp to the Padres are contributing another $3.5 million over those same years. That’s a lot of money for a relatively average player.

Melvin Upton, Jr. has a slightly better contract, but it isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. The Padres will have to pay Upton $17 million dollars in 2017.

The best hope to see Hunter Renfroe on the field permanently will come next season. Jon Jay signed a two year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 2015 season which expires at the end of 2016. Jay is making a little over $6 million this season, and unless he is willing to take a major pay cut, I don’t think the Padres will try to resign him when they have a player many think could be a superstar sitting in the wings.

Before then, chances of Hunter Renfroe putting on a Major League Baseball Uniform are slim. The Padres have a lot of money tied up in a pretty pedestrian outfield, so Renfroe will just continue to make AAA pitchers come close to wetting their pants on the mound when he steps in the batter’s box.

If you can’t wait that long, then you might could see Hunter Renfroe playing when September call-ups are made. Whenever it is, I expect Renfroe to make a pretty significant impact on a pretty bad team.