Red Sox potential trade target: First baseman Jose Abreu

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Jose Abreu /

The Boston Red Sox will turn over every baseball rock to find a power hitter. Could Jose Abreu of the White Sox be the answer?

The Chicago White Sox are in the process of rebuilding their team and Boston has participated in the process with the trade for Chris Sale last year. The price was a good chunk of Boston’s future as Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech both went to Chicago.  Can Boston go to Chicago for a much-needed bat?

The White Sox have just about everyone available for a price and that means Jose Abreu. If the Red Sox complete a transaction, it will close a circle since Boston did lose out to the White Sox when Abreu was available.  This goes back to when the Cuban came on the open market and a bidding war commenced. The Red Sox were in pursuit, but Chicago surprisingly topped all with a six-year and $68 million contract.

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The ramifications of losing Abreu may have been instrumental in another bidding war that the Red Sox won for a Cuban player – Rusney Castillo. The Red Sox “won” that war with a six-year and $72.5 million contract. The results of both purchases show the downside and the upside of bidding on players. Castillo is in Pawtucket and Abreu is a former All-Star and Rookie of the Year.

What does Abreu offer Boston?  In 73 plate appearances at Fenway Park Abreu has a .354 average with four home runs and 14 RBI. Abreu is a career .301 hitter, so it is not just about power for the 31-year-old right-handed slugger.  As far as run production, Abreu has four seasons of MLB ball and a 100+ RBI in each. In 2017, Abreu also led the American League in total bases, so he has all the ingredients one needs for a dynamic power hitter in the Boston lineup. There is more in the positive statistics bank.

For 2017, Abreu matched free agent Eric Hosmer on the top rung among American League first basemen with a 4.1 fWAR. Abreu was number one with an impressive wRC+ of 138. Want more? Top among first sackers in wOBA at .377. Tops in slugging at .577 and RBI with 102. The man can hit and hit for power.

Where any slippage occurs -especially in a comparison with Mitch Moreland – is in the field, but Abreu is still no slouch with a very modest 0.7 UZR/150. Abreu’s fielding metrics were slightly better than Hosmer’s.

Abreu is also eligible for arbitration and can be a free agent in 2020, so that is two years controllable, but still a hefty price tag since arbitration will undoubtedly provide a significant boost in his near $11 Million 2017 salary. Money is one part of the deal, but then comes just what you must give to get?

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The White Sox are abundantly clear on their housekeeping that what they cherish most is young, controllable and cheap. The Red Sox do have all three, but just who? Do you start with Jackie Bradley as a cornerstone and add to it? That would be my assumption.  Do you toss in prospects? Sam Travis? Who else? Would the Red Sox consider Eduardo Rodriguez being part of a deal?

I am certainly not privy to the think patterns of Chicago and Boston regarding talent.  Every fan and media type can use speculation and various trade analyzers to “work” a deal.  What a deal does have with Abreu is potential. Chicago has a product or a term now used – an “asset” that the Red Sox desperately need.

The downside of any trade is you give up players and the Red Sox under Dombrowski have been masters at giving up players.  The farm system looks like a wheat field that was hit with a swarm of voracious locust. The Red Sox will also have a boatload of money expended for two seasons and may choose to just venture into the free agent market and save players and the aggravation of an Abreu free agency.

Next: Red Sox 2017 Report Cards: Drew Pomeranz

What is known is Abreu can answer the need for the missing power bat. Abreu could be the factor that reverberates throughout the lineup and inspires a return to a more run productive team.