The Rays have designated outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Brian O’Grady for assignment, per a club announcement. The moves help to clear a path for the addition of infielder Taylor Walls, outfielder Josh Lowe and righty Drew Strotman to be selected to the 40-man roster.
Renfroe, 28, was Tampa Bay’s primary right fielder this season and a relatively high-profile addition via trade last winter. However, the former Padres slugger hit just .156/.252/.393 this season and was projected to earn more than $3.5MM in arbitration, making him an obvious non-tender candidate for the low-payroll Rays. There’s little reason not to free up a 40-man spot early if Tampa Bay were planning to let Renfroe go in a few weeks anyhow.
Miserable 2020 season aside, Renfroe’s not far removed from being a solid performer with the Padres. He has long run high strikeout rates and hasn’t drawn many walks, contributing to generally low on-base percentages. But Renfroe slugged 85 homers between 2017-19 and has typically rated as a strong defender in the corner outfield. That may not be enough for another team to acquire Renfroe via trade or waivers, but some teams figure to look into bringing him in despite his difficult most recent season. Renfroe is controllable through 2023 via arbitration, so any acquiring club would have the luxury of keeping him around for a while should he figure things out offensively.
O’Grady, also 28, was acquired in a trade with the Reds last offseason. The first baseman/corner outfielder only picked up five plate appearances in 2020 but has a robust track record at the plate in the minors.