According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Dodgers have signed Bobby Abreu, formerly of the Angels. In a corresponding move, the team has demoted utility infielder Justin Sellers to the minors and will probably use Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop.
The Angels will be paying Abreu’s 2012 salary, and speculation is that the Dodgers will be paying Abreu a prorated league minimum salary.
The Angels released Abreu one week ago and will be on the hook for the remainder of his $9MM salary. Abreu’s new deal could be for as little as the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum.
So at the very least, he probably won’t be expensive.
My initial thought? Wow, wonderful. Any time you get the chance to platoon Juan Rivera and Abreu in what should be an elite offensive position in left field, you’ve absolutely got to do it.
With that said, it doesn’t seem like it will be much of a platoon, at least if Bill Shaikin is correct.
Abreu would not fit with #Dodgers or any other NL team except as a PH. He can’t play defense regularly any more.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 28, 2012
Seems he’ll see limited action in left field and be the primary bat off the bench.
Now the main question on the minds of fans is why wasn’t Adam Kennedy released instead of having Sellers sent down. Well, the sad reality is that Abreu might not be much better than Kennedy.
Kennedy projects to hit .252/.305/.358/.663 the rest of the season, according to ZiPS. Once a plus defender at second base, Kennedy has now been reduced to playing fringe defense at first base, second base, and third base.
Abreu? Well, he’s on a four-year OPS decline (.843/.825/.787/.717), and ZiPS projects him to hit .243/.333/.382/.716 the rest of the way. Better with the bat, but not a gigantic gap between the two. Defensively, Abreu has been worth -76.3 runs according to UZR and -47 runs according to DRS over his career, coming out to around -8.4 runs UZR per 150 games and -5.2 runs DRS per 150 games. In simpler terms, he’s a shitty defensive player.
If I give Abreu ~100 PA for the remainder of 2012, he comes out to being worth ~1.3 runs with the bat, ~3.3 runs replacement level, ~-0.8 runs position adjustment, ~-0.8 runs on the bases, and ~-1.1 runs defensively. A total of ~1.9 runs or ~0.2 WAR.
At this stage in his career, he’s basically a well below average player whose only redeeming quality left is being able to take a walk more often than most.
So basically, Kennedy can’t hit, but has defensive versatility and is competent with the glove. Abreu is a better hitter, but not by as much as you’d think, and he’s terrible with the glove.
Given that Kennedy’s current role is essentially that of a pinch hitter, I would think/hope Abreu is more valuable to the Dodgers. However, if they start to play Abreu in the outfield against every righty, it could get ugly, not so much at the plate, but for the Dodgers pitching staff.
Kennedy is bad and he deserves all the criticism thrown his way, but the reality is that, depending on the role, Abreu might be even worse.
It all leaves me to wonder why the Dodgers can’t ever do better on the bench (Mark Sweeney/Garret Anderson/Mark Loretta/Eugenio Velez), because while Kennedy hasn’t been the answer, I don’t think Abreu is the thump off the bench the team is looking for either.