NEW YORK, NY: Bobby Abreu #53 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim argues after being called out on strikes in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The last we heard of Bobby Abreu, he was getting released by the hitting-starved Los Angeles Angeles.
Which seemed a discouraging sign, since Bobby Abreu is fundamentally a hitter. You might have guessed that Bobby Abreu's career was finished.
You might have guessed wrong.
#dodgers are in serious talks w/ abreu. not done deal, as details need to be worked out. sev other teams showing interest 2— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) May 3, 2012
Bobby Abreu used to be a great-though-unappreciated hitter, perhaps the most underrated player in the majors for some years running. Then Bobby Abreu was a good hitter. And then he was ... well, he was just an okay hitter. Last season he posted a 104 OPS+, which isn't really acceptable for a full-time player with little defensive value.
This season, the Angels had a numbers issue and Abreu wound up the odd man out, largely because he batted .208 in eight games and he explicitly didn't relish his part-time role. So aside from the little matter of the (roughly) $7.5 million the Angels still owe Abreu, cutting him loose must have been easy.
And yet the Dodgers are interested? This is going to be the new owners' first move? Signing an Angels castoff? Which need would Abreu fill, exactly?
Two possibilities. He could play some left field; Dodger left fielders, "led" by Tony Gwynn Jr. and Juan Rivera, have posted a 646 OPS this season, which is really pretty terrible.*
* Granted, five teams' left fielders have been more terrible, highlighted by the Nationals' guys and their 351 OPS.
Abreu is by no means a full-time left fielder at this point, but he and Rivera might form a solid platoon if you don't care about defense. One thing we do know: Junior Gwynn is never going to hit ... but he's such an outstanding fielder that replacing him with Abreu might not add even a single win over the course of a season.
The other possibility: Abreu could serve as an exceptionally well-paid -- almost completely by the Angels, of course -- pinch-hitter and fifth outfielder. The bar for pinch-hitters is pretty low, and if Abreu's healthy he can probably clear it. But if he wasn't happy playing half the time for the Angels, will he tolerate playing less often for the Dodgers? Or anyone else?
Time will tell. But Abreu's just two seasons removed from a pretty productive season, and he might be ready to help a contending team in a platoon or part-time role, if he's willing.