If the Rays are looking to upgrade their lineup from the right side, Jose Abreu could be the answer. A former Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star, and a regular on the MVP ballot, could be just the bat the Rays need in 2019.
At first glance you may think I am crazy. Why would the Rays trade for Jose Abreu to replace C.J. Cron when Con had a career year and Abreu is coming off the worst year in his career? Well, Jose Abreu is among the league’s elite run producers and the Rays had a knack for losing games due to their inability to score runs.
Yes, Cron did have a career year, and yes, Abreu had the worst year in his career. But, during Jose Abreu’s career worst campaign, he still hit for a better average than C.J. Cron, hit eight less homers and still drove in more runs than Cron.
Abreu VS Goldschmidt…
Jose Abreu , just like Paul Goldschmidt who I also believe that the Rays could target, is in his final year of team control prior to free agency. In Abreu’s final year of arbitration eligibility he is projected to make 16 million. This is 1.5 million more than Goldschmidt is owed but the asking price would be presumably lower as Abreu is coming off the worst year in his career.
Abreu or Goldschmidt would both give the Rays a run producing right-handed bat. They would both allow the Rays to allocate more money towards Wilson Ramos or Yasmani Grandal, an additional power right-handed bat, alleviating the need to sign Cruz, who is 48 years old, to a probable two-year contract.
Jose Abreu would prove to be more costly in 2019 costing an extra 1.5 million but would likely put less of a dent in Tampa’s farm system. Both hitters average about 30 homers a year and 100 runs batted in. If both become available and the Rays are in the market for both, it is likely they will go with the cheaper option with respect to their farm system.
Why Abreu and not Cron…?
Jose Abreu is a career .295 hitter who averages 29 bombs and 98 runs batted in per year. Cron, on the other hand, is a career .260 hitter who averages 17 bombs a year and 57 runs batted in. 2018 did provide us a glance as to what Cron is capable of, but one could argue that he is due for some regression next year.
The Rays lost an unrivaled number of games by one run in 2018 and although Cron was their greatest power threat, he didn’t deliver with runners on. I mentioned before that while Abreu hit a 22 bombs, a career low and 8 less than Cron, he still drove in four more runs. This is because Abreu is a much better hitter and run producer with runners in scoring position.
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With runners in scoring position:
- At Bats: 138
- BB: 12
- K: 44
- Avg: .196
- RBI: 38
- At Bats: 106
- BB: 12
- Avg: .283
- RBI: 53
Abreu completely outperformed Cron in every category with runners in scoring position in 2018. Abreu’s production with runners on second and third is exactly was the Rays were lacking this season and just what they need in 2019. Cron only hit 6 of his 30 homers with runners in scoring position compared to Abreu’s 7 of his 22. Abreu hit nearly a third of his homers with runners in scoring position compared to Cron only depositing a fifth of his homers in the same situation.
The Rays can’t afford their biggest power threat to strike out nearly 32% of the time and hit .196 with runners in scoring position. Jose Abreu would add a viable threat to the middle of a Rays lineup that should have an abundance of runners in scoring position.
The asking price…?
Due to the fact that Abreu would be a one year rental and he is coming off the worst year in his career, the asking price should be lower than the that of Goldschmidt and absolutely within the Rays price range. With the depth of Tampa’s farm system, getting a deal done shouldn’t be an issue.
The Rays will be in the market for an impact bat and a replacement for C.J. Cron. Trading for Jose Abreu gives them an impact bat who can play first base and DH whenever Bauers plays first. Abreu will drive in the runs that Cron couldn’t when it counted and if he returns to his 2017 and the first half of 2018 form, the Rays will have an All-Star first baseman who could lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2013.
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