It's that kind of offseason. The Phillies will only be adding the types of players that will come to camp on a minor league deal, and if they make the club, they will be paid very, very minimally. So far in the Phillies' quest to find a potential left-handed bench bat, they have only added Tony Gwynn, Jr., who did not spend a day in the major leagues last season. Should there be a veteran left-handed bat who say, was having a dominant performance in the Venezuelan Winter League, he would interest the Phillies, right? Enter Bobby Abreu.
Todd Zolecki brought up Abreu's name when asked about bench signings in a mailbag on Phillies.com:
Bobby Abreu is getting a lot of attention lately. He is playing well in winter ball. Abreu isn't anything defensively, but the guy can work an at-bat. He knows how to get on base. And we know the Phillies like to bring back former Phils players.
Zolecki quoted Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. in the piece as saying the team is looking for left-handed bench bats who could play some outfield.
Abreu is having one heck of a winter league in Venezuela after sitting out the 2013 MLB season. Playing outfield for Leones de Caracas, Abreu has appeared in 50 games while batting .322 with three home runs and 28 RBI in 180 at bats. True to Bobby Abreu form, Abreu is reaching base at a .416 clip and has an OPS of .877. Abreu hopes those numbers will be enough for a Major League team to sign him.
Abreu's 2012 season was the worst of his major league career. After getting cut by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to open up playing time for a player you might have heard of before named Mike Trout, Abreu signed with the Dodgers. But after the Dodgers traded for everyone under the sun by the trade deadline, Abreu was cut. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers and was a September callup. Abreu hit just .246 and had an on-base percentage of .365. After marginal interest by the Indians and Red Sox last offseason, Abreu sat the year out.
Good numbers in Venezuela do not necessarily mean that he could still perform in the Major Leagues. Abreu is on a team that features Mike Piazza on its pitching staff. No, not the All-Star catcher, but his second cousin who has never played above AA. And, putting up simliar numbers to Abreu is former Phillies infielder Joe Thurston, an outfielder in the league.
The Phillies could decide that they want a veteran bat who can pinch hit and maybe play some outfield and DH. The Phillies tried it with Jim Thome a couple years ago, but he could not physically play the field at all. Plus, the Phillies are in the middle of a 2003 reunion tour with Larry Bowa and Marlon Byrd coming back to the staff.
All that the Phillies would have to give Abreu is a minor league deal and an invitation to Spring Training with no obligation that he is with the team opening day. As Jerry Crasnick pointed out on ESPN.com last April, Abreu needs 13 home runs and one stolen base to be a member of the 300-400 club, a feat that only Bobby and Barry Bonds have accomplished in Major League Baseball history.
Could it happen? I would think it would be less likely than more likely. But, Zolecki is right: the Phillies like to bring back former players.
For your nostalgic viewing pleasure (With Harry Kalas and Chris Wheeler):
First Home Run in Citizens Bank Park
Abreu's Walkoff Inside the Park Home Run