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The Boston Red Sox are on the cusp of playoff contention and are looking for an extra piece or two to send them over the top. While pitching help is at the top of everyone’s wishlist, the Sox are reportedly also interested in adding a bat. According to Phil Rogers of Forbes, the Red Sox are monitoring Chicago White Sox’ first baseman Jose Abreu. Abreu has spent the entirety of his MLB career with Chicago, but should the Red Sox swing the trade? Let’s break down the pros and the cons.
Dave Dombrowski has long admired Jose Abreu. The @RedSox are among a few teams monitoring Abreu’s availability. He might be most impactful bat on the market if @whitesox we’re willing to deal him. Could trade him and re-sign him but value as a rental is limited.
— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) July 19, 2019
The Red Sox could certainly use some help at first base. Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce have battled injuries all season long, and Pearce reportedly won’t be back for a while. With these two starters gone, the Red Sox have had to use a platoon of Michael Chavis and Mitch Moreland to shore down the position. Chavis is a solid starter, but keeping him at first forces the Red Sox to use Marco Hernandez and Brock Holt with more regularity than New England would probably prefer. Sam Travis, meanwhile, belongs in the minors and is nothing more than an emergency starter at first.
Adding Abreu would immediately shore up Boston’s infield. The Red Sox could start Abreu, Chavis, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers and boast one of the best infields in all of baseball. With Hernandez and Holt as depth, the Red Sox should have the infield to make a late-season playoff push.
Additionally, Abreu probably won’t cost much to acquire. The righty is in the final year of his contract and doesn’t provide much in terms of defensive value or baserunning prowess. It won’t take a top prospect to get a guy like this, which is good for the Red Sox and their relatively underwhelming farm system. The New York Yankees only had to give up a Single-A pitcher with a mediocre ceiling to get Edwin Encarnacion, so Abreu will probably go for about the same.
Jose Abreu is not the player he once was. So far on the season, Abreu is hitting .275/.310/.499 with a 109 wRC+, making him 9% better than the average hitter. While this is an improvement from Sam Travis, it’s nothing to write home about. He’s walking on just 4.5% of his plate appearances while striking out at a 22.0% clip. These aren’t necessarily bad numbers, but they’re a long fall from where he used to be.
This isn’t a one-year outlier for Abreu. Back in 2017, Abreu finished the season with a .256/.325/.473 slash line and a career-low 114 wRC+. He only hit 22 home runs on the season and had career-lows in batting average and on-base percentage. He was still an above-average hitter, but he’s no longer an All-Star-caliber player.
Ultimately, the Red Sox should make a trade if the price is right. Abreu won’t replicate his 2014 heroics, but he can still be a solid bat at a position that needs help. Boston shouldn’t have to give up much prospect capital, and Abreu could give the Red Sox one of the most complete infields in baseball.