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Posts Tagged ‘Trades’

Bobby Abreu: Coming Back?

Bobby Abreu: Coming Back?

Over the weekend, rumors have been hot & heavy regarding a proposed trade that would send AJ Burnett and cash to the Pirates in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers. Joel Sherman in this morning’s New York Post has an interesting write-up. The deal right now is hung up on the two teams agreeing to fair compensation, given the amount of money the Pirates want along with AJ.

It seems as if the Yankees are intent on moving AJ purely as a player dump, with the hope that they can free up enough payroll to find a left-handed bat for the DH spot. I’m fine with just dumping AJ, who has been the model for inconsistency throughout his career and whose Yankee career has been underwhelming (to say the least). But what if the Yanks could actually get a quality bat in return, rather than the borderline prospects the Pirates seem willing to part with? Such a deal may be possible. Ken Rosenthal tweeted
around 11:30am
 that the Angels would like to have AJ’s services. And the Angels have a serious logjam at DH/OF, with the expected return of Kendrys Morales, youngsters Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos and veterans Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells all looking for playing time. Add Albert Pujols to the mix, who is guaranteed to take over at first, and suddenly Trumbo and Morales are without a position. In short, they have seven players for four spots. Somebody will be the odd man out in that game of musical chairs and my guess is it will be Abreu.

The Yankees are familiar with Abreu, who patrolled right field for the Bombers from 2006-2008. While his skills have declined, the Yanks are only looking for a part-time left handed bat, a role Abreu could certainly fill. His power has taken a serious dive over the past two seasons, but his splits against right handers are still decent (.259/.366/.400) and after adjusting for ballparks, actually slightly better than league average (108 OPS+). And in clutch and high leverage situations, Abreu still shows the ability to rise to the occasion: in 104 “clutch” plate appearances last year, Abreu hit .306/.423/.482. We all know he isn’t anyone’s idea of a good outfielder, but the Yanks probably wouldn’t play him more than 10-15 games in the outfield anyway – not enough to have his fear of walls do any real damage to the Chase for 28.

There are two huge obstacles to getting a deal done: the first is AJ’s no-trade clause. The Angels are one of the ten teams on his list and it seems AJ is dead set on staying on the east coast. But we’ve all seen no-trade clauses get waived when the player is given enough “incentive.” I suspect AJ can be properly incented, given the difference between the Pirates and Angels chances for winning – and the difference in their home ballparks. (In case you hadn’t noticed, Angels Stadium is much more pitcher friendly than PNC Park). The other is, of course, the money. Abreu is in the last year of his deal and owed $9 million, while AJ has two years and $33 million left on his. But it seems to me that if the Yanks are willing to pay the Pirates $10-13 million for a pair of borderline prospects, then the Yankees could agree to a similar amount for Abreu. And once Abreu is off the books next year, the Yanks would look to have even more salary space next season to find a DH type than they would if they accept the Pirates trade offer. Let’s say the Yanks agree to pick up Abreu’s contract for this year and chip in an additional $5 million in cash, along with an extra $3 million for AJ to head west. $17 million is a hefty price to get AJ out of town – but I still prefer that to the Pirates offer, as the Yanks would get a known commodity for 2012 and salary relief for 2013.

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Who Next?

One of the joys of this time of year is playing General Manager. It’s virtually a rite of passage for a baseball fan to look over their favorite team, identify areas for improvement and try to figure out who might be available for trade. For Yankees fans, this has always been the time when we get excited about the big names that are available, because we know (as only members of the Evil Empire can know) that one or more of them are as Bronx bound as the 4 train.

Only…maybe not this year. Really, you say? A trade deadline with the Yankees sitting on the sidelines?

I doubt the Yankees will completely sit out the trading season, but I also doubt the team will be aggressively pursuing a “name” player. There just aren’t that many glaring holes on this team, and regardless of the rumors linking us to players like Cliff Lee and Dan Haren I can’t see trades of that magnitude happening. To address those two players in particular, there are two things preventing a trade for either. First are the contract situations. Lee will be a free agent at the end of the season and the Yankees won’t trade any of their young catchers (the Mariners apparently want a catcher back) when they can sign him at the end of the season. Haren is owed around $24.12 million through 2012 ($36 million if his 2013 option is picked up); a sum the Yankees aren’t willing to spend on a pitcher with injury issues. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Yankees don’t need starting pitching. The quintet of Sabathia, Burnett, Pettite, Vazquez and Hughes has been solid this season and is the main reason the team currently has the best record in baseball. Grabbing one of the starters on the market would only be to prevent somebody else from getting them at this point.

Additionally, the sudden spate of injuries to top-tier players on contending teams will push the market for suitable replacements higher than the Yankees are probably willing to go. With Dustin Pedroia, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco now shelved teams like the Orioles and Astros will be asking for more for rentals like Ty Wiggington and Jeff Keppinger. It’s not that the Yankees can’t use a player of that ilk, but they aren’t in the type of need that the Red Sox and Phillies find themselves. Likewise, other contenders are much more in need of a player like David DeJesus or Octavio Dotel. (Besides, the Yankees have a version of Dotel in Chan Ho Park).

So, expect a relatively quiet trade deadline from the Bombers. There will undoubtedly be minor deals struck – for a second tier reliever and backup infielder, most likely – but not the type of thunder we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from Brian Cashman’s office. And you know what? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means that for all of our kvetching as Yankees fans every time Park gives up a homer or Mark Teixeira strikes out with a man on, the team is good enough to compete and win in the AL East.

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