Pat Burrell is a 32-year-old power-hitting outfielder with some pretty good career numbers. He’s a .257/.367/.485 hitter with an OPS+ of 119. While he’s not as good as Bobby Abreu, he is two and a half years younger than the former Yankee and was hoping for a significant payday this off-season.
Milton Bradley is two years younger than Burrell and seems to be fulfilling the offensive potential that earned him rave reviews while a top prospect for the Expos. He has a career line of .280/.370/.457 and is coming off a season with an OPS+ of 163. He too was set for a big deal.
It’s fairly shocking, then, to learn that Bradley has signed a three-year, $30-million deal with the Cubs while Pat the Bat is on the verge of signing a two-year, $16-million deal with Tampa Bay. Burrell made $14 million alone in 2008 and was coming off of a six-year, $50-million deal. I highly doubt that a 40 percent salary reduction was in his head while the Phillies were celebrating their World Series Championship.
Now, what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with the Yankees? Well, Burrell and Bradley are the next two — behind Raul Ibañez — in the group of corner outfielders to sign, and they’re both doing so at AAVs well below what anyone would have expected just a few months ago. With these signings, the market for Bobby Abreu is further defined, and there is virtually no way that in 2009 Bobby Abreu will earn anywhere close to the $16 million the Yankees paid him last year.
In other words, had the Yankees offered arbitration to Bobby Abreu, there is a very good chance Abreu would have accepted, and the Yankees would be paying a 35-year-old Abreu far above market value for his services. While they may have sacrificed a draft pick in the process, the Yankees made the right choice when they let Abreu go, and each outfield signing this winter just emphasizes that reality.