Saturday, September 5, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Bobby Abreu

Perhaps no player in baseball has boosted their free agent candidacy like Bobby Abreu. When Abreu was a free agent last season, most teams viewed him as an afterthought. Sure Abreu could hit, but for some reason, there was absolutely no market for Abreu. The strange part is that Abreu actually performed quite well for the Yankees in 2008: he scored 100 runs, hit 20 homers, drove in 100 runs, hit 39 doubles, stole 22 bases, and produced a very respectable .371 OBP.

But despite all that, the best Abreu could do on the open market was a 1 year/$5 million dollar contract with the Angels. Fortunately for the Angels, Abreu has been everything the Angels could have hoped for, and more this season. Abreu has provided the Angels with a consistent presence in the lineup that was left reeling when Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero each missed significant time because of injuries. The Angels offense, in large part because of Abreu, has not missed a beat this season and is a major reason why the Angels are currently in first place in the AL East.

So what does the market have in store for Abreu? Let's take a look:

The Case for Abreu

-He gets on base

Plain and simple: Abreu is an on base machine. Since 1998, Abreu has not posted a OBP lower than .369 and has a career OBP of .404. In recent seasons, it was thought that Abreu was on the decline because his OBP had dipped from around .400 to .370. However, this season his OBP has been on the upswing as it currently stands at .393, which is 11th in the American League.

-Clubhouse presence?

Everyone knows just how valuable Abreu has been to the Angels this season based on his numbers. But what I wasn't aware of was Abreu's impact on the rest of the Angels this season. For more on this, click here. After reading this article, there's no doubt in my mind that Abreu will provide a positive impact in the clubhouse in 2010 and beyond.


What team in baseball wouldn't want this type of production from their right fielder?

2007: .283, 16 HR, 101 RBI, 25 SB,
2008: .296, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 22 SB,
2009: 12 HR, 86 RBI, 27 SB, .294

And yes, those are numbers ('07,'08) that Abreu put up during his "decline."

The Case against Abreu

-power decline

Make no mistake about it: Abreu is no longer the 30 HR threat that he was in his heyday. At this stage in his career, Abreu should be good for 15-20 HR a year, but not much more. In previous seasons, Abreu has been a doubles machine, raking between 40-50 doubles every year, but this year Abreu only has 21.


According to fangraphs, Abreu has been a pretty terrible right fielder this season for the Angels. Abreu's UZR/150 this season is a pathetic -10.1 in large part because of his horrible range, which currently sits at -12.7. But hey, on the bright side, Abreu's UZR/150 is not nearly as bad as it was last year...-25.3.

-Watch out for the wall!

This amazing link just about says it all...Bobby Abreu, hitting a wall?


Last offseason, there were a number of quality corner outfielders on the market (Milton Bradley, Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez, Manny Ramirez, Garret Anderson, Ken Griffey Jr, etc) . With many teams reluctant to spend the big bucks, it was inevitable that some of these guys did not come away with the money they. Unfortunately for Abreu, he was a casualty of the competition and a very down market.

And once again, it looks like Abreu will be facing steep competition in the corner OF market. Big names like Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Johnny Damon, Vlad Guerrero, (and maybe Jermaine Dye) are all going to be free agents, so once again, the possibility lives that one of these guys will not get their "due."

Elias Ranking: Type A

-It makes lots of sense for the Angels to offer Abreu arbitration: if he accepts, then they have Abreu under contract for 2010 for a reasonable rate ($8-$10 million). And if he leaves, they get 2 high draft picks in return.

(rankings courtesy of MLBTR)

(2 years/$22 million with a $14 million dollar option for 2012)

Here are some comparable contracts:

Milton Bradley (3 years/$30 million)
Adam Dunn (2 years/$20 million)
Kosuke Fukudome (4 years/$48 million)
Mike Cuddyer (3 years/$24 million)
Raul Ibanez (3 years/$31.5 million)

I'd be very hesitant to give Abreu a contract for more than 2 years simply because he'll be 36 at the beginning of next season. It would not surprise me to see a team give Abreu a three year contract, but for now, I'll stay conservative. Abreu's agent should focus heavily on the Raul Ibanez contract last year if he wants to position his client for a three year deal as opposed to a two year pact.


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