Yankees GM Brian Cashman made another very solid move yesterday by NOT offering Bobby Abreu salary arbitration. I'm sure there are some Yankee fans who look at Abreu's production (20 HR, 100 RBI, .296 BA) and think that signing Abreu for another season would be a good thing. Offering Abreu salary arbitration would have ensured that. Also, I'm sure some Yankee fans are upset that they will not receive the two compensatory draft picks that Abreu would have netted (he is a Type A free agent). Well Yankee fans, don't fret, this was a fantastic move for several different reasons.
-The Yankees have roughly $80 million bucks coming off the books this offseason, which already gave Cashman tons of maneuverability to go after Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira, etc. By not offering Abreu arbitration, Cashman does not have the potential $16 million dollar Abreu option to think about and he can proceed to go after whatever free agents he chooses. The chances that the Yankees make a big splash increase because of this move. The door is wide open CC!
-Even if Abreu's numbers are very good, he is not a $16 million dollar a year player anymore. His OBP, HR, and walks have all dipped since joining the Yankees and it does not look like Abreu is a star player anymore. Sure he can get on base and still hit for some power, but the signs of decline are evident in the fading numbers.
3. Is he a winning player?
-Let's call this the Jamal Crawford syndrome. Crawford, who was recently traded from the Knicks to the Warriors, is a very good basketball player with tons of talent. However, every team Crawford has played on has never reached the playoffs. I think Abreu is the same kind of player. Even though he reached the playoffs with the Yankees in 2006 and 2007, Abreu never struck me as a winning ball player. He always seems rather careless on the field and often surprisingly looks lost on the field. Remember, the Phillies remained in neutral until they traded Abreu away in 2006. After the trade, the Phillies thrived.
Looks good on paper...but can he deliver the goods?
-At one point in his career, Abreu was one of the best RF in the game. However, at this point in his career, Abreu is a terrible right fielder who consistently refuses to run into (or near) walls. Yankee fans know what I'm talking about when I note that watching Abreu in the outfield is painful and frustrating...
Plus, with Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady already entrenched in the 2009 Yankee outfield, Cashman needs to find a quality defensive center fielder so that Damon and Nady can stick to the corner spots...where they belong. Putting the emphasis back on defense and speed will ultimately help the Yankees win some ballgames.
-Just because the Yankees did not offer Abreu arbitration, they still can re-sign him. Who knows? Maybe Abreu will find that there is just no market out there for himself and come crawling back to the Yankees at a reduced rate. Or maybe the Yankees will strike out on several big name free agents and come looking to sign Abreu later in the offseason? A deal is still possible, but the Yankees put themselves in a much better position to negotiate.
Yankee fans can mourn the loss of two potential draft picks all they want, but this move reeks of sensibility and logic. Not too mention that the Yankees already have a stacked farm system, which makes a decision like this all the easier to swallow. Good to see the Yankees curtail spending....for now.