Red Sox Trade Targets: First baseman Jose Abreu
By Sean Penney
A Boston Red Sox team in desperate need of power could turn back to the Chicago White Sox as a trade partner if Jose Abreu is available.
Negotiating a blockbuster deal with the Chicago White Sox worked out pretty well for Dave Dombrowski when he acquired Chris Sale last winter. Perhaps the Boston Red Sox should go back to the well.
The Red Sox have a power bat at the top of their wish list and Chicago may once again have what they are looking for. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this month that the White Sox are open to moving first baseman Jose Abreu, who could be an excellent fit for Boston.
Abreu hit .304/.354/.552 this season, producing his best slash line since his impressive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2014. His 33 home runs tied for 12th in the league, his .906 OPS was seventh and his 138 wRC+ was eighth. He’s a proven run producer, topping 100 RBI in all four of his big league seasons.
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He’s not a great defensive first baseman by any means, yet Abreu is passable in the field. After a rough rookie season, Abreu has been around average with the glove the last few years. His .993 fielding percentage this year was only a few ticks below Mitch Moreland‘s .995 percentage.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Abreu to earn $17.9 million in arbitration next season, so he won’t be any cheaper than the top free agent first basemen on the market. However, he’s only under control for two more seasons. Abreu won’t require as long of a commitment as a comparably valued first baseman like Eric Hosmer would. Abreu will be 31 next season so the Red Sox may not want to commit to him much longer than that. With top infield prospects Sam Travis and Michael Chavis waiting in the wings, Abreu fits Boston’s timeline better than the free agent options.
Chicago held out for a massive haul for Sale but Abreu won’t cost nearly as much. He’s a great player, but not quite the same caliber as the current ace of the Red Sox staff. He also has one less year of control and will be paid more than Sale. Chicago can’t expect as much in return this time, so the top young assets in the Red Sox system should be off the table.
The White Sox showed interest in Jackie Bradley during last year’s negotiations but Boston balked at including him. They may be more open to moving him now in order to open a spot in the outfield for a power bat like J.D. Martinez or Jay Bruce. Sign either of those sluggers to play left field, slide Andrew Benintendi over to center and plug Abreu in at first base. The defense clearly takes a significant hit but Boston’s biggest weakness suddenly becomes a strength by adding a pair of 30+ homer threats to the lineup.
There is no shortage of directions that the Red Sox can explore in their quest to land a power bat. Dombrowski will leave no stone unturned, so if Chicago is indeed making Abreu available then we should expect the Red Sox to at least have him on the radar.