The Brewers should think about trading for Bobby Abreu

Jim McIsaac

Yes, that Bobby Abreu. Hear me out.

Doug Melvin recently told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN that he's on the look out for a bullpen arm. For better or worse, I'm certain they'll acquire one before the trade deadline. I hope they don't stop there because the Brewers could benefit from a left-handed bat, preferably one with power. The obvious positions that could support such a bat come at first base and the outfield. I don't think the Brewers are going to drop Lyle Overbay, again for better or worse, so I think if they do get that bat, it'll have to be an outfielder. Though I do very much want them to get that bat, the one thing I desperately want to avoid in any trade is stripping the farm system. That's where the left-handed hitting Bobby Abreu comes in.

I know what you're thinking. The dude is 40 years old for crying out loud! Well, so what? We're not building a team around him. We're not even talking about giving him a starting job. Hell, we're not even really talking about inserting him into a platoon. We're talking about adding a bench piece that could start a few games here and there.

Despite his age, he's having a pretty nice season. The caveat here is sample size. He's played in 47 games and started only 20 of them (mostly in right field) for a total of 106 plate appearances. But that's okay because that's the exact role he'd have with the Brewers. In those 106 plate appearances he's hitting 286/368/418 with a 125 wRC+. If we break that down further, in 93 plate appearances versus right-handed pitching he's hitting 295/387/449 with a 139 wRC+.

mentioned recently that I thought Matt Joyce made some sense for the Brewers bench. Seth Smith is another name that I hear often. Then you have the in-house option of Caleb Gindl. Let's see how they stack up to each other when facing right-handed pitching.

AVG OBP SLG wRC+
Seth Smith 301 397 536 165
Bobby Abreu 295 387 449 139
Matt Joyce 280 375 409 122
Caleb Gindl 294 369 475 N/A

Right away I was surprised to see how well Gindl is doing versus righties, but it's important to recognize that he's doing this at Triple-A. That's why there's no wRC+. I had to go to his B-Ref page to find his splits and they don't use that stat.

To me, Bobby Abreu looks like the most tantalizing option on that list. In limited plate appearances, his bat is second only to Seth Smith. Unlike Gindl, we have evidence that suggests he can survive in a bench role. While neither is exactly an above average defender, we can infer that Abreu could be better considering almost all of his time comes in right, while Joyce is limited mostly to left. Unlike Smith he isn't going to cost much to acquire.

In fact, the cost to acquire Bobby Abreu might be the best thing about him. The Mets signed Abreu to a minor league deal worth $1.8 million dollars if he got called up, which he did. We're already at the half-way point of the season so right now he'd only add $900,000 to the payroll. That doesn't really move the needle at all. The contract is only for this year and since he's old and since he's not a starter, the Mets have almost zero leverage in trade talks. This is the kind of deal that sends non-prospects or cash considerations to the other team.

Bobby Abreu is old, he's not a starter, and we only have a limited sample size to make out assessments with. For that reason I'm not sure I'd want to jump on a trade for him right now. However, if it really does take a non-prospect or cash, then there's no real danger in that either. Worst-case: He's not any good and they're out some money and an org player. He could be DFA'd and they wouldn't be any worse off than they are right now.

They have that 8 man bullpen and an open spot on the 40-man roster so all it would take to get him on the active roster would be to send a reliever to AAA. They're planning on doing that anyway. I have no idea if this is something the Brewers are looking to do, but if they are I hope they're not overlooking Bobby Abreu.

Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of Fangraphs

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