Here’s the thing about the happy fun times that come with having new ownership: it doesn’t automatically come with a new general manager. If it did, we might not be talking about the Dodgers reportedly being interested in buttressing their core of “veterans who were awesome in 2006,” so says Jon Heyman:
#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
(Actually, though I joke, Abreu was awesome in 2006. .297/.424/.462, 15 HR, 30 SB? Hell yeah.) Of course, it’s not 2006 anymore, and the 2012 version of Abreu is a 38-year-old who was cut by the Angels last week after getting off to a slow start and voicing his unhappiness with his reduced role in a crowded Anaheim outfield which also included Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos, and – to replace Abreu – Mike Trout.
As you’d expect from a player of his age, Abreu is heavily into his decline phase. In 2008, his final year as a Yankee, he put up a .368 wOBA in his age-34 season. That held steady at .367 the next year, but fell to .348 in 2010 and just .325 last year; in 27 plate appearances this year, he reached base just seven times. On defense, he was never a plus glove even in his prime, and is now all but unplayable out there, making him an odd choice for a National League team.
This may sound like I view this as a Garret Anderson-level bad idea, and while I’m certainly not salivating over the prospect of him joining the club – if that even happens – I may not mind it as much as you may think. Abreu’s far past his peak, but he did manage a .352 OBP last year to go along with 21 steals in 26 attempts. He hasn’t put up an OBP lower than that since 1997, believe it or not, and he’s stolen at least 20 in every year since 1998. So in a world where Juan Rivera is injured and ineffective, Tony Gwynn is a backup at best, Jerry Hairston is needed at third base (especially with Juan Uribe likely to go on the DL), and options in the minors are either unavailable or unappealing, yeah, sure, I could see this being a decent no-cost add as a veteran bench bat and sometime left fielder.
The real question would be how you fit him onto the roster. The Dodgers are already facing a roster crunch when Ronald Belisario is eligible to return this weekend with Matt Guerrier soon to follow, so adding Abreu would exacerbate that even further. If Uribe does go on the DL, you could swap their spots on the 25-man roster; there is one open spot on the 40-man, likely ticketed for Belisario, though that could be opened up by moving Ivan De Jesus to the 60-day DL or by DFAing someone like Matt Angle or Trent Oeltjen.
It’s if Uribe does not go on the DL where things get interesting. Shipping Justin Sellers back to the minors would be easiest simply because he has options, but then you’re left without a real backup at shortstop behind Dee Gordon. And that would mean… well, dare I dream? If you’re adding an over-the-hill lefty veteran bat, what better man to lose his job than the over-the-hill lefty veteran bat who you shouldn’t have signed in the first place and who has offered little so far? I’m somewhat ambivalent to the idea of adding Abreu, but if it means we’re free of Adam Kennedy then that certainly tips the scales in the “yes please!” direction.
Admittedly, this is not exactly what I had in mind for the first signing of the Guggenheim era, of course. But for the pro-rated veteran minimum? Sure, why not.