Much like with Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez (Eric will have more on that signing later), Bobby Abreu’s suitors have to understand and account his defensive shortcomings in order to accurately project his worth. Jon Heyman is reporting the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Tampa Bay Rays as potential suitors for the soon to be 35-year-old. The Angels and Rays plan on using Abreu as a designated hitter while the Dodgers and Cubs want to use Abreu in left and right field respectively.
With the exception of 2007, Abreu’s wRAA has exceeded 20 each season since 1997, his first part-time season in the majors. Last year Abreu notched 22.4, an while Abreu is not quite the hitter he was in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, Marcels still has him projected at 13.3. As a DH, Abreu’s value is going to come near teammate Jason Giambi’s value, but as a corner outfielder some team is throwing away money.
UZR has Abreu at -25.9 over 150 games, PMR at -12, Chone at -11, and Dewan’s +/- at -25 plays (-22 runs), for an average of -15 to -17 runs defensively. Noticeably that all but wipes away Abreu’s offensive value and we have yet to apply a positional adjustment of -7.5 runs or a replacement level adjustment (20*(612/700) which result in Abreu being worth 0.7 WAR. However as a DH, Abreu shoots up slightly more than a half-win to 1.3 WAR. That’s the difference in market value of about three million, and if Abreu repeats his 2008 performance he’ll be worth over 2 WAR.
For those NL teams without the DH role at their disposal, signing Bobby Abreu is going to result in some less than optimal results. That suggests both teams should aim elsewhere, or look within their organization for their next corner outfielder, but as we discovered with Raul Ibanez, not all teams have a firm understanding of how defensive shortcomings can effect total value.