Jesse Spector writes the Touching Bases column for the Daily News. It’s a lesser known blog that the tabloid has run for the better part of four years now. Today, he tackles the topic of Bobby Abreu:
The top right fielder on the free-agent market is a Yankee, wants to stay a Yankee, and the Yankees might let him walk away.
You read that right. Bobby Abreu’s stated first choice this winter is to remain in the Bronx, but the Bombers have a surplus of outfielders – Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Hideki Matsui and Xavier Nady – under contract, in addition to the organization’s top hitting prospect, Austin Jackson.
“Bobby’s definitely very happy with the Yankees and he’s enjoyed his time with the Yankees, and it’s his first choice to come back,” said Chris Leible, one of Abreu’s agents. “But it’s just wait and see what happens.”
If the Yankees do let Abreu walk after he hit .296 with 20 homers and 100 RBI, they probably won’t be looking for his replacement via free agency, where other options are sparse.
I don’t really see the harm in letting Abreu walk though. Sure, he may be the top right fielder on the market, but he’s not the top outfielder on the market. The Yanks could easily slide Xavier Nady to right to make room for Manny Ramirez, a far, far superior player to Bobby Abreu. The cost-benefit analysis would show that Manny is a better investment.
Meanwhile, the Yanks also aren’t going to let having Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner under contract at or slightly above the league minimum deter them from finding an adequate replacement for Bobby Abreu or for re-signing Abreu. Furthermore, Hideki Matsui isn’t and shouldn’t be considered an outfielder at this point in his career. Until his knees show otherwise, he’s a full-time DH, and even if his knees are healthy, he’d be a defensive liability at this point.
The other options — Ken Griffey, who will never play in New York, and Brad Wilkerson — are indeed sparse, but it’s not really a dire predicament. I’m glad Abreu enjoys New York; I’m glad he’d like to return; I’m just not so sure he’s the man for the job.