A current media report claims that the Yankees aren't the only team with an interest in Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu.
According to today's New York Post, "The Red Sox have made multiple inquiries to the Phillies about Abreu's availability even though they have Trot Nixon in right."
This is certainly an interesting claim, but one with questionable veracity. Why would the Sox, given Nixon's outstanding play this season (.322 AVG., .427 OBP), and the inexpensive Wily Mo Pena waiting in the wings, make a move for the talented, but expensive, Abreu?
Like Nixon, Abreu is 32, and has seen his home run production suddenly diminish this season. While Nixon used to be capable of hitting 25 homers annually (but not since 2003), this year he's dropped to just six. Likewise, Abreu has hit only 8 homers so far this year, to go along with his 59 RBI. A career .302 hitter, Abreu is batting .286 this season with a .442 OBP. Over the last seven seasons, Abreu has averaged 24 homers and 96 RBI. So while his home runs are down, his RBI are actually up.
But for that production, the Phillies are paying him $13.6 million this season. The contract is guaranteed next season at an eye popping $15 million, with a club option for 2008 at $16 million. Abreu also has a complete no trade clause, but probably wouldn't balk at coming to a contender like the Red Sox.
Nixon, who becomes a free agent at season's end, will make $6.5 million this year. Even if he were to seek a raise next season, his salary could double and still remain below Abreu's.
That's not not likely to happen, but it only brings into question the wisdom of such a move, and hardly lends credibility to the Post report.
When healthy, Nixon is a very similar player to Abreu. Over the same seven year span, including the last two seasons when he spent time on the DL, Nixon has averaged 18 homers and 67 RBI. A lifetime .282 hitter, Nixon also has a respectable .371 OBP. But Nixon's numbers are a bit misleading and should viewed with the consideration that in his first two regular seasons with the Sox ('99, '00), he never played in more than 124 games. But over the next three seasons, when his playing time increased, Nixon showed his true colors. Over that span, 2001-2003, Nixon averaged 26 homers, 90 RBI and 87 runs. Then injuries ruined his 2004 season, and impacted 2005 as well.
So if the Red Sox want to get younger, or cheaper, in right field next year, Abreu is not the solution. He may provide slightly more offense than Nixon, but it will come at a whopping price. That doesn't add up.
If the Sox choose not to resign Nixon, Wily Mo pena will most likely be the reason. The 24-year-old Pena will make $1.25 million this season, and will only be eligible for arbitration the next two years. During his last two seasons with the Reds, the power-hitting Pena averaged 23 homers and 59 RBI while never playing in more than 110 games.
Lastly, why would the Sox mess with the great team chemistry that has resulted in their best start in twenty years, and one the five best in team history. The Sox had won 53 games going into today's contest, and sport a .624 winning percentage. The general consensus is that the only thing the team needs is an additional pitcher, not an everyday player. Their lineup has no holes, and they certainly don't need a right fielder at this time.
All things taken into consideration, the Abreu to Boston rumors would seem to have little merit.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.