The Boston Red Sox have reportedly been in trade talks for Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu but striking a deal won’t be easy.
We’ve heard that the Boston Red Sox have had discussions with the Chicago White Sox about a trade for first baseman Jose Abreu but that hardly means a deal is imminent.
Based on the latest reports it seems bringing the Chicago slugger to Boston may be more of a long shot.
While FanRag’s Jon Heyman confirmed that the sides have spoken, finding a deal that both sides would agree to won’t be easy.
"“The sides have indeed spoken about Abreu, who is being shopped to other teams as well, but the early word is that there may not be a great match,” writes Heyman. “The White Sox are said by one source to have made a request that included at least one young player currently on Boston’s major-league roster, and apparently the request either halted talks or at least appears to have left the sides thinking a deal won’t be easy.”"
If the unnamed major league player is Andrew Benintendi or Rafael Devers then that explains why the talks have hit a speed bump. Abreu is a very good hitter who would provide the Red Sox with the 30+ home run threat they need but he’s not worth giving up either of those young assets.
Both rookies are under team control until 2023 and 2024 respectively, while Abreu comes with only two seasons of control before hitting free agency. They are significantly cheaper than Abreu will be in his second year of arbitration. While the 30-year old Abreu is already at his peak, Benintendi and Devers have yet to graze their ceiling and may not be far away from meeting or exceeding the value of the former All-Star first baseman.
If the White Sox are indeed insisting on receiving Benintendi and/or Devers, the steep asking price fits the report from ESPN’s Scott Lauber that Chicago wants “an arm and both legs” in return for Abreu.
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The player Chicago asked for may have been Jackie Bradley, whose name was floated around the rumor mill at this time last year when the Red Sox were negotiating the Chris Sale trade. We know the White Sox had interest in Bradley before but it’s unclear if they still do. He’ll be a free agent after the 2020 season, which could allow him to bolt before Chicago is ready to be a contender again.
It’s also debatable if the Red Sox would give up Bradley for Abreu. The 27-year old is coming off a disappointing season at the plate but he remains an elite defensive center fielder. Prior to this year, Bradley posted consecutive seasons with an OPS north of .830 and his career-high 26 home runs in 2016 wasn’t far off from Abreu’s four-year career average. He’s not the power hitter that Abreu is but Bradley’s defense helps close the gap in their value. The 5.3 WAR Bradley posted in his All-Star campaign last year nearly matches the career-high 5.5 WAR Abreu posted in his rookie year in 2014.
Given Boston’s desperate need to add more power to the lineup, swapping Bradley for Abreu makes some sense. However, it would leave the Red Sox short an outfielder. Their system isn’t exactly overflowing with premium talent at the position so this trade scenario may be contingent on the Red Sox signing a free agent outfielder. If they can trade for Abreu and sign J.D. Martinez then surrendering Bradley suddenly becomes more reasonable.
This presumes that Bradley alone would be sufficient for the White Sox. Boston may need to spruce up their offer to compete with other suitors. A lower-level prospect or two shouldn’t hold up a potential deal but if Chicago demands any of the few remaining blue-chip prospects in the Red Sox system in addition to Bradley then the deal becomes too lopsided.
We’ll see if Chicago lowers the asking price to a more reasonable level, although that may depend on how aggressive other teams are willing to get in their pursuit of Abreu. It doesn’t seem as if the White Sox are in a position where they need to move Abreu, which lowers the odds that Boston can convince them to budge from their unrealistic demands.