This weeks hot trade rumor is centered on Bobby Abreu. Lynn Henning has been chasing the story and wrote up the case for it today. But with the articles came the denials. Pat Gillick says that he’s not interested in trading hitting right now, but that there is legitimate buzz about the Tigers interest.
Dombrowski didn’t confirm or deny rumors, citing MLB tampering rules, but he definitely didn’t give it a no. It may be some gamesmanship on his part, but he didn’t dismiss the Abreu possiblity when given the chance. Meanwhile, in today’s pregame interview Jim Leyland didn’t hesitate to extinguish the rumors like the butt of Marlboro.
But back to what Henning was tracking. He’s speculating a pitching prospect and a right handed bat, like say Miner/Tata and Monroe/Thames. If that sounds like a good deal to you, then we’re on the same page. I guess it would depend on how important it would be for Philly to dump salary. A half season of Abreu this year (~ $6.5 million), plus $15 million for Abreu’s 2007 salary and that is a considerable sum. The Tigers would also be on the hook for a minimum of the $2 million buyout on Abreu’s option in 2008.
But then there is that pesky no trade clause. Abreu would have some leverage here. Like say in exchange for waving the clause the Tigers have to guarantee that third year, which would cost $16 million. Illitch has said he would spend, but $40 million over 2.5 years is a ton. It would also mean that the Tigers would have $31 million committed to 2 34 year old corner outfielders. Just something to keep in mind.
As for the merits of Abreu, the guy is an offensive force and adds 3 things that the Tigers need: a lefty bat, a high on base percentage, and some speed. For his career he’s one of those 3/4/5 guys with 303/411/512 line coming into 2006. He’s also stolen 20 or more bases each year since 1999 and has a career stolen base percentage of 76%.
And of course we all remember his ridiculous record setting display in the home run derby last year. Just don’t let that sway your opinion of Abreu too much. Since that exhibition, he’s hit only 14 homers and slugged at a 445 clip. Is it decline or a fluke? At least his he’s maintained a 412 OBP over the same period.
Now I’ve written much more about Bobby Abreu than I did when dispelling the Smoltz rumors. I think that’s because this deal seems more appealing, especially if the price isn’t too high in a salary dumping situation. I still think it would take someone more on the Humberto Sanchez level to make the deal work for the Phillies. And even under those circumstances, the Phillies are still a wild card contender so I don’t think anything would be happening before the All Star break.