Archive for Bobby Abreu
Now, that guy looks pretty good in pinstripes, eh? As the Yanks welcomed their newest addition today, let’s catch up on some rumors.
- Bobby Abreu is still looking for a three-year, $48-million offer, and I’m looking for a rainbow with a leprechaun and a pot of gold at the end of it. Neither of us are going to find what we’re looking for, and Jerry Crasnick says that no one is really interested in Abreu.
- Ken Rosenthal reports that Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher are “drawing significant interest.” Joe will have more on this for the overnight tonight, but to sum up my thinking, the Yanks don’t really need to trade anyone right now. Unless they are blown away by an offer, they are far better off holding Swisher and Nady than they are trading them right now.
- In the same piece, Rosenthal drops in a tidbit about Brian Fuentes. Apparently, Fuentes’ agent tried to pitch the closer to the Yanks as a possible set-up man and future heir to Mariano Rivera‘s throne. The Yanks weren’t interested in paying Fuentes closer money and never made an offer. While some folks in the Mark Teixeira press conference liveblog believed that this news shows that the Yanks are nervous about the 8th inning, I completely disagree. They weren’t keen on bringing in Fuentes, and it seems as though the closer’s agent just wanted the Yankees in on the negotiations. Nothing to see there really.
Anyway, use this as your open thread for the night. Anything goes. Just play nice.
Update by Mike (7:04pm): The Yanks signed outfielder John Rodriguez to a minor league deal. The Bombers originally signed J-Rod as an international free agent back undrafted free agent out of an NY area high school back in ’96 for $1,000. He has a 110 OPS+ in 332 big league at-bats, which came for the Cardinals back in ’05 & ’06.
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.
While the Yankees are sleeping soundly this week knowing that their Christmas presents are safe and sound in New York, across the coast, some former Yankees are making headlines. In concrete news, the Giants have signed the Big Unit to a one-year, $8-million deal. He will join a rotation that includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez. If the team can find some offense, they may just have the pitching to compete in the NL West in 2009. The Giants appear to be a potential trade partner for the Yanks in their efforts to move a spare outfielder.
Across the Bay, we know that the A’s are interested in bringing back Jason Giambi, and according to recent reports, they’ve been in touch with Bobby Abreu too. Abreu is the classic Billy Beane guy. He’s a high-OBP outfielder who should come at a decent price. The A’s would be well served to have both Giambi and Abreu around for 2009.
Bobby Abreu is almost 35 and with a career offensive line of .300/.400/.500. He’s been one of the steadiest and best producing outfielders in the Majors for a while, but what should be his last big payday of his career came at a terrible time. The market is flooded with corner outfielders, and teams are wary of a player like Abreu who may have already started a steep decline. Despite his pedigree, as Jerry Crasnick explains, GMs across the game see Abreu as a piece of the puzzle rather than the center piece of a team, and the former Yankee is waiting for a market to emerge.
While nothing may come of this news, at least it’s real and tangible. The Tampa Rays, as evidenced by a photograph and confirmed report on the St. Petersburg Times’ Heater blog, have met with Jason Giambi and plan to talk to Bobby Abreu as well. Giambi makes a lot of sense for Tampa. He could play the Cliff Floyd role and would do so better than Floyd did in 2008. I’m not quire sure what Tampa wants or needs with Abreu, but they’re just checking out all the options.
By the time the dust settled last night, only two players accepted their clubs’ offers of arbitration. Of the players I thought might accept — Jason Varitek, Jon Garland and even Mark Grudzielanek — none accepted. So I have to wonder if the Yanks misread the market. Should they have offered arbitration to Bobby Abreu and Ivan Rodriguez? Of course, their decision would have impacted the Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell decisions as well, and it’s really hard to play the “What If?” game here. Yet, I wonder who is making the bigger mistake: the second-tier players for not accepting arbitration or the risk- and cost-averse clubs who simply do not want these players around at any cost anymore?
Scenario 1: The market for corner outfielders isn’t strong, and while Bobby Abreu wants a three-year, $45-million deal, no club, for a variety of reasons, would dole that out right now. The Yankees offer arbitration, and Abreu accepts. All of a sudden, the Yanks will have to pay a 35-year-old corner outfielder in the declining phase of his career at least $16 million and probably closer to $18 or $19 million. Not only does Abreu occupy a spot on the 40-man roster, but his decision to accept arbitration means the Yanks cannot go after a younger and cheaper or older but better and more expensive alternative.
Scenario 2: The market for corner outfielders past their prime isn’t strong. In fact, baseball executives feel that Abreu could command just a multi-year deal but only at an AAV of $8-$10 million. The Yanks know that, with this parameter in place, Abreu would do better to accept arbitration. So they don’t offer it to him. They know this makes Abreu a bit more attractive in the eyes of his potential suitors because he won’t cost a draft pick, but they’re willing to make that move in the name of fiscal and roster flexibility.
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If you’re the General Manager, what do you do? To me, the answer is simple, and the Yanks made the right move. They picked scenario two. In doing so, they forfeited the potential to receive two draft picks, but right now, it seems as though Abreu would have been in a position where arbitration was the better option. The Yanks knew and didn’t want to take that chance.
In the RAB piece for Newsday’s On the Yankees beat blog, Joe made a similar point yesterday, and it’s worth delving into the aftermath of this decision. It’s not easy to replace Bobby Abreu’s production, and I don’t think the Yanks are expecting Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady to produce at Abreu’s past levels.
But now without Abreu around — and it seems like he is definitely not coming back — the Yanks have options. They can take a good, long look at Manny Ramirez; they can explore Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell. They can spend on pitching and hope that their offense is good enough if their starters can be outstanding. No matter what, they aren’t locked in to an outlandish obligation to Bobby Abreu.
These days, we tend to overvalue draft picks, and yes, compensation picks can be rewarding. After all, the Yanks wouldn’t have Joba Chamberlain without them. In the end, though, they’re just draft picks that may or may come due in a few years’ time. The Yanks looked at the seemingly weak 2009 draft, they looked at where they needed to be right now, and they determined that Bobby Abreu and arbitration did not go hand-in-hand this year. It was the right decision.
We’ve talked about Bobby Abreu quite a bit since the season has ended. While the Yanks will offer him arbitration, they won’t give him the three-year deal he wants. But does he even deserve this deal? In a must-read piece about Abreu’s future, Eric Seidman posits that Abreu will be among the most overpaid or the most disappointed free agents on the market this year. I believe it.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees will offer arbitration to Bobby Abreu, which is basically the team’s way of saying good bye to the right fielder. Abreu, as Heyman notes, stands to make about $16 million through arbitration but should see three-year offers from at least the Cubs and the Mets. The Yanks don’t seem keen on bringing back Bobby for more than a year or two.
If Abreu leaves, the Yanks will get some draft picks, but the team will also sport an outfield of Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon and some combination of Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera as things stand now. While Opening Day is still a few months out and there are many moves to be made, that outfield doesn’t fill me with much offensive confidence.
We keep coming back to Bobby Abreu. He’s that free agent with whom no one knows know what to do.
On Sunday night, in our open thread, a mini-discussion broke out about Bobby Abreu’s declining walk rate. Some saw it as a sign that Bobby is nearing that Bernie Williams circa 2003/2004 point of no returns. Others — as Jeff Passan wrote in his absurdly comprehensive free agent tracker — still see Abreu as a potent offensive force and are seduced by his career .300/.400/.500 offensive line.
I go back and forth on Abreu. On the one hand, I see him as a much better choice than Xavier Nady, but I recognize that this reaction is based on Nady’s bad month and the two players’ prior records. Considering Bobby will be 35 while Nady will be 30 come opening day, the possibility exists that Nady could outperform Abreu in either or both of the next two seasons despite the fact that Bobby Abreu is a far, far superior player.
So while we’ve already debated Abreu, I’d like to offer up some observations that serve as something as a counterpoint to my own previous belief that the Yanks will let Abreu walk. With Matt Holliday heading to Oakland and the Yanks seemingly not that interested in Manny, Abreu may very well be the best choice whether we like it or not.
Now, despite this predicament, there are some warning signs. Since arriving in New York, past his peak, at age 32, Abreu’s walk rate has dropped, while on the Yanks, from a walk every 7.5 BB in his first two months in the Bronx in 2006 to once every 8.3 PAs in 2007 to once every 9.4 PAs in 2008. That is a fairly dramatic slide. But on the other hand, we have his K rates. This went from 4.8 PA/K in 2006 to 6.1 PA/K to 6.3 PA/K. While he’s walking less, he’s also striking out less. All of this means that Bobby Abreu is putting the ball in play more often. But why?
According to ESPN’s stats page, Abreu is still seeing an impressive 4.29 pitches per plate appearance. This total is right in line with his career average and is down from the 4.39 mark in 2007 and the 4.44 mark he put up during his first few months in the Bronx. The 2006 totals, by the way, were a career high for Bobby in that department.
Now, I’m thinking these changes are due to the lineup. In Philadelphia, Abreu hit third in front of Pat Burrell. In New York, he hits third in front of Alex Rodriguez. Pitchers are much more likely to go after Abreu if they have A-Rod up next. Why pitch around Abreu to face Alex with a runner on base? Objectively, that doesn’t make sense. So perhaps the AL pitchers are more inclined to attack the zone. Who knows? That’s just my theory.
While these numbers offer us a glimpse at what’s going on, we can’t escape the fact that Abreu is getting old, and he’s slowing down. It’s unavoidable. But perhaps his declining walk rate isn’t as much of a concern as we all think.
He’s not a steady outfielder; he’s 35. Those are two good reasons to replace him with some younger. But that option might not exist. The Yankees may just need Bobby Abreu after all.