When the free agent frenzy begins, Bobby Abreu will be front and center among the Yankee free agents. He’s done very well in New York, and he’s coming off a 20-20 season in which he yet again drove in 100 runs and hit .296/.371/.471. It is not easy to replace a player who puts up Bobby Abreu-like numbers.
But Bobby Abreu is no spring chicken. He’ll turn 35 prior to Opening Day and doesn’t fit the Yanks’ purported youth movement. The Yanks, however, still have to field a team of nine viable starters, and in that regard, a short-term solution involving Bobby Abreu wouldn’t be bad. It certainly would be a better and safer move than allowing Xavier Nady to claim the right field job uncontested.
Abreu, however, has different plans in mind. He, according to Mark Feinsand, wants a three-year deal from the Yanks.
Abreu has said several times that he would like to remain with the Yankees, having enjoyed his 2-1/2-year stint in pinstripes. But the 34-year-old also is seeking at least a three year-contract, leading most baseball insiders to believe the outfielder will wind up in a new uniform this winter.
According to a source, Abreu has been upset by some recent media reports and speculation suggesting that his days in the Bronx are over. Abreu is vacationing with his family in the Bahamas and is expected to return to the area this weekend, although his situation won’t be settled until next month at the earliest, as he figures to test the free agent market.
GM Brian Cashman said he has not discussed any contract issues with Abreu or his representatives, so he wasn’t in a position to say how many years Abreu is seeking. But Cashman…stressed that he is “a big fan” of the outfielder. “I thought he was a welcome addition,” Cashman said. “He solidified right field, was an offensive force and has been a steady performer. He’s a professional, and his demeanor is outstanding. He’s done a great job.”
There are a few things going on here. First, this is the standard “negotiate through the media” technique. Abreu’s reps — or whoever this anonymous source is — now claim he wants “at least” a three-year contract, but 35-year-old Bobby Abreu would probably not get any more than three years on the open market.
The Yankees meanwhile have something of the upper hand here. They like Abreu, but the team also seems content to let him walk. They also hold the arbitration trump card. The Yanks could offer him arbitration and then re-sign him for a year. They can also offer him arbitration, let him walk and claim a draft pick. It’s a win-win for the team.
I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Abreu. I know his defense isn’t all that, but replacing his bat would not be an easy task. Xavier Nady had a terrible September after his red-hot August, and his career line of .280/.335/.458 is a far, far cry from Abreu’s .300/.400/.500 line. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two split the difference, and the Yanks bring Abreu for two years. If they let Bobby go, I wouldn’t be too shocked either if Manny Ramirez then ended up pinstripes.
Ah, the machinations of the off-season.