After quite an eventful offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays are likely done making major moves. That being said, things will inevitably happen over the course of spring training and of course the season and it’s going to be very important for the Rays to have sufficient depth on their team for when everything inevitably happens. Could a player they could target in that type of role be Bobby Abreu?
Jon Heyman tweeted earlier today that two possibilities for Abreu could be the Rays and the Miami Marlins. Is Abreu a player that the Rays should really consider? Abreu is going to turn 39 in March and it seems like he has been washed up for years now. But the Rays giving him a chance may not be the most far-fetched thing in the world.
Abreu used to be very good all-around player. From 1998 to 2010, Abreu managed a .297/.402/.492 line (132 OPS+) with an average of 39 doubles, 21 homers, 95 RBI, and 28 stolen bases per season. He never appeared in less than 151 games in a season and he did a lot of thing to help a team, combining solid power with good speed, great durability, and an excellent eye at the plate, averaging over 100 walks per year. The past two years have been a different story for Abreu as he managed just 11 home runs combined in 842 plate appearances. But that doesn’t mean that he’s completely done. During that stretch, Abreu actually managed a .250/.352/.358 line, a 102 OPS+, not hitting for any power as he managed just 20 doubles, 6 homers, and 42 RBI per season, but still averaging 14 stolen bases and 58 walks while not striking out at all. One big issue is that Abreu has never been a great defensive outfielder and is only worse now. But if Abreu is willing to work out at first base, the Rays could certainly do worse.
This offseason, the Rays signed James Loney to be their first baseman. The issue is that he’s coming off a season where he put up just a .249/.293/.336 line (79 OPS+) in 465 plate appearances, and if Loney fails to rebound in 2013, the Rays could be in trouble. If Abreu is willing to try out first base, sign a minor league contract, and face a high probability of beginning the year at Triple-A, what do the Rays have to lose by giving him a shot? Bobby Abreu is a shadow of his former self and if he ends up starting for the Rays in 2013, it would mean that a lot has gone wrong. But if Abreu is willing to make the proper concessions, the Rays signing him is something that could really happen.