Bobby Abreu Rumors
9:05pm: Abreu can opt out of the deal if he is not placed on the MLB roster by March 26th, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. That early date, of course, will pressure the Phillies to carry Abreu on the Opening Day roster or risk losing him.
Abreu's deal calls for him to earn a $50K bonus if he is named Comeback Player of the Year, Sherman adds.
2:07pm: The Phillies have officially signed outfielder Bobby Abreu, the club announced. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the deal (Twitter links). Abreu will return to Philadelphia on a minor league contract, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, with Heyman adding that he would earn $800K if he breaks camp with the club.
Abreu, who will turn 40 before the start of the year, did not play in the bigs last year. He has 17 MLB seasons under his belt, including nine with the Phils. In 2012, Abreu posted a .246/.361/.344 line in 257 plate appearances, most of them coming with the Dodgers. His last full season came in 2011. Fading power and declining defense left him at a replacement level in that campaign, though Abreu never lost his ability to reach base. (Across nearly 10,000 career plate appearances, he carried a lifetime .396 OBP and never fell below the .350 mark after he broke in as a full-time player.)
So, why the interest from Philadelphia? Abreu has been tearing up the Venezuelan Winter League with a .322/.416/.461 triple-slash in 180 regular season plate appearances. And as impressive as Abreu was during the winter league's regular season, his postseason stats were even more eye-opening. Abreu slashed .464/.549/1.214 (with eight home runs) in 56 playoff at-bats, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.
As CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reported earlier, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. had heard "decent reports on [Abreu]" coming out of Venezuela, leading to the club's interest. According to Amaro, the club was "looking at all the left-handed bats still out there and he's one of them." It remains to be seen, of course, whether the Phils will nevertheless look to add another left-handed bench option in addition to Abreu.
The Phillies apparently had competition in landing Abreu. As Crasnick reports, the Mets and Indians were both interested in the veteran's services, as was a Japanese club.
Earlier this morning, I asked MLBTR readers about the Braves' upcoming arb hearings and how each situation would pan out (player wins, team wins, or agreement is reached prior to hearing). To this point, MLBTR readers think that Craig Kimbrel (63%) and Freddie Freeman (57%) will win their hearings, while about 46 percent think the Braves will win a hearing against Jason Heyward. Here's more on the Braves and the rest of the NL East...
- The Braves have not had any recent discussions with lefty Eric O'Flaherty, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The Braves were once expected to re-sign their longtime setup man, who underwent Tommy John surgery early last season, but recent reports suggest he could be headed elsewhere.
- As things stand, Atlanta GM Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez both stand to enter the season on expiring contracts, notes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien writes a lengthy breakdown of the merits of each key organizational figure.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the Mets' stance on Stephen Drew hasn't changed; they still like Drew but aren't hot on his trail and are content to wait in order to see if his price drops. Agent Scott Boras has said that he and Drew can wait as well, Martino reminds.
- New York is still looking for bullpen help, and the team is "somewhat" interested in Mitchell Boggs, a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link).
- The Phillies made a notable minor league signing today, bringing back one-time club cornerstone Bobby Abreu. "The purpose of this signing is to see if he has anything left," said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. "We've seen him in [Venezuela]. He's in shape and swinging the bat well, and he's motivated to play. If he performs, great. If he doesn't, we have no obligation to keep him. But he will be given every opportunity to make [the] club." (Links to Twitter.) As Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com argues, players like Abreu and fellow minor league signee Chad Gaudin fill important depth roles at minimal cost.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Phillies are interested in bringing back one of their cornerstones from the late 90s and early 2000s, as they're taking a look at Bobby Abreu, according to a report from CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick adds that the two sides are currently in discussions on a minor league deal (Twitter link).
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. did not deny the fact that the Phillies were gathering intel on the 40-year-old Abreu, who has had a monster season in winter ball down in Venezuela and is looking to make a comeback. Amaro tells Salisbury that the Phillies are looking at all of the remaining left-handed bats on the market.
Abreu played in 1353 games as a member of the Phillies from 1998-2006, slashing a healthy .303/.416/.513 with 195 homers in his time in Philadelphia. He did not appear in a Major League or Minor League game last season but has drawn attention from multiple teams with his winter ball performance, including the Indians.
The Indians have signed a couple of notable names to minor league deals this week, picking up right-hander Scott Atchison and outfielder Jeff Francoeur. They were also one of the two finalists on infielder Jamey Carroll. Here's the latest out of Cleveland (All courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes)...
- Hoynes writes that the Indians have been in contact with Masahiro Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, and could meet with him and his client in the coming days. The Indians "are in the game" and could make a lucrative multiyear offer, but Hoynes calls the chances of a deal "slim," noting that Cleveland isn't likely to outbid big spenders like the Yankees and possibly the Diamondbacks.
- From that same piece, Hoynes writes that if they do not land Tanaka, they're content to wait for a starter to come to them at their price. Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo could all be of interest and could all sign after Tanaka. Hoynes writes that Cleveland has long coveted Garza, and also adds that they may be able to sign Jimenez if he's the last man standing from the remaining free agent starters. At that point, they could get Jimenez at their price and would have an advantage over other teams due to draft pick compensation. Cleveland is also content to let Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Shaun Marcum and Josh Tomlin battle for the fifth spot if they can't find a starter at the right price.
- In a mailbag piece, Hoynes tells readers that while the Indians have spoken to Johan Santana's agents, his sense is that the team is focused on adding healthier, more dependable arms if it makes further pitching additions.
- Cleveland isn't likely to sign Bobby Abreu because Jason Giambi is already in the fold, Hoynes reports. However, the Indians are impressed by Abreu's swing and improved conditioning. If it becomes clear that Giambi cannot fill the role he did for the Indians in 2013, then Abreu would be a candidate to do so.
4:59pm: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer hears that the Indians are "not all that interested" in Abreu (Twitter link).
2:10pm: The Indians are interested in Bobby Abreu, who is playing in the Venezuelan Winter League and attempting a Major League comeback, according to Tony Lastoria of Indians Baseball Insider (on Twitter). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports adds that the Indians have spoken to Abreu's agents at the Legacy Agency but have yet to make an offer (Twitter link).
Abreu has played in 50 games in the Venezuelan Winter League, hoping to catch the eye of a Major League club, and his stats are certainly impressive. The two-time All-Star has batted .322/.416/.461 with three homers, 10 doubles and three triple in Venezuela.
Abreu hasn't appeared in the Majors since 2012 with the Angels and Dodgers, when he posted the worst full-season OPS of his career (.693). His offense had been in a steady decline since 2008 -- his final year with the Yankees.
A lifetime .292/.396/.477 hitter between the Astros, Phillies, Yankees, Angels and Dodgers, Abreu will turn 40 years old in March. He has parts of 17 Major League seasons under his belt and has already earned more than $124MM in his playing career.
39-year-old on-base artist Bobby Abreu plans to "play winter ball for the Leones del Caracas starting in October as a prelude to a comeback attempt in 2014," writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. A few teams kicked the tires on Abreu during the offseason, but after coming up empty he plans to take this season off.
"Bobby still thinks he has something left to offer. He still thinks he can help somebody, and he has some personal milestones that would probably be nice to cross," agent Peter Greenberg told Crasnick. While Abreu's power seems all but gone, and he's more of a pinch-hitter or part-time designated hitter, it does appear he can still get on base at a .350 clip. Those 13 home runs needed to reach 300 will be hard to come by, however.
The Yankees, who are hunting for a corner infielder to replace the injured Mark Teixeira, have asked Derrek Lee if he would be interested in returning to baseball, David Waldstein of the New York Times reports. Waldstein reports that Lee did show interest, although no deal is in place. Lee last played in 2011 for the Orioles and Pirates, hitting .267/.325/.446. Here are more notes from the American League:
- Fewer scouts watched Rick Porcello's start on Sunday with the Tigers than the dozen or so who watched his last one, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. Beck notes, however, that scouts generally don't watch the same players over and over in the spring. Porcello has been the subject of trade rumors for the past several weeks, and the Rangers have reportedly shown interest.
- Signing Jim Thome or Bobby Abreu might be options for the Red Sox as they attempt to replace the injured David Ortiz, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Abraham suggests, however, that the Sox's in-house options, which include using Mauro Gomez, Ryan Lavarnway or J.C. Linares at DH or moving Mike Napoli or Jonny Gomes to DH in order to create a lineup spot for Lyle Overbay or Jackie Bradley Jr., might be more appealing. That makes sense, since it isn't yet certain that Ortiz's injured heels will cause him to miss more than a few weeks of the regular season.
Here's a look at the latest out of the American League East..
- Despite having six candidates for five rotation spots, the Yankees are keeping tabs on former ace Chien-Ming Wang, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. Wang threw off a mound for Yanks spring training pitching instructor Billy Connors at his Tampa area home recently and put on an impressive performance.
- The Orioles may consider signing outfielder Bobby Abreu, but first plan to “see what they have in camp,”tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman previously reported that theMarlins and Rays could be in the mix for the 38-year-old Abreu.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon plans to provide right-hander Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher previously known as Fausto Carmona, with an opportunity to earn a spot in the starting rotation, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. As Maddon explained, the Rays will“treat [Hernandez] as a starter and then revert back” to a relief role should he fail to beat out other starting options, including Jeff Niemann and Chris Archer. Also of note, Maddon said that righty Alex Cobb is “pretty much ensconced” as the Rays’ fourth starter.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links)...
- The Marlins and Rays are among the possibilities for Bobby Abreu, Heyman reports. Abreu, 38 in March, hopes to extend his career following an unremarkable offensive season in 2012.
- The Blue Jays are still in the bullpen market along with the Mets, Heyman reports. The Marlins, Astros and Dodgers might also be involved in pursuit of relievers, Heyman adds. Here are the details on the Mets’ bullpen targets.
- The Rays will likely officially announce their deals with Kyle Farnsworth, Luke Scott and Kelly Johnson next week, Heyman reports.
There were baseball people this winter who pleaded with their teams to go after B.J. Upton as a free agent and to trade for his younger brother, Justin Upton. However, there also were those who said “over my dead body” would they have either, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. In fact, officials in one AL East organization were nearly unanimous in the opinion that neither Upton was a fit for them. The Braves obviously didn't share that view and will now enter 2013 with a remarkably athletic lineup thanks to the Upton brothers. Here's more from today's column..
- While Cafardo hears that the Mets' interest in Michael Bourn is minimal, that might be enough for them to land him eventually. Many baseball people are amazed that Bourn is the odd man out in free agency. The Mets, Mariners, and possibly Orioles are waiting for a bargain deal and one AL manager reasoned that if a team can get him on a one-year deal, they might juggle things around to make it happen.
- The Red Sox were among the teams that tried out Bobby Abreu. but sources say the Red Sox are unlikely to pursue him as the backup first baseman/outfielder that they’re looking for.
- Left-hander Ron Mahay has decided to call it a career. The 41-year-old says that he's now looking to get into coaching or managing. Mahay last appeared in the majors with the Twins in 2010. For his career, the reliever posted a 3.83 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 across 14 seasons.
- The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano is on the trading block and could still be moved before spring training, as teams like the Orioles and Rangers look to make last-minute upgrades.
- The Angels had some hope that Vernon Wells could be moved this winter, but those odds decreased after the Phillies signed Delmon Young. “I think people will look back on his career and wonder, how could a guy who came into the league with so much ability let this happen?” said an American League scout who once saw Wells as one of the most talented players in baseball.