Angels and Red Sox Preheat the Stove

Steve O Speak

With the World Series over the offseason begins and baseball’s free agency period begins in two weeks. The Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox got an early start as they look to shape their roster to knock off the Yankees next season. The Angels resigned outfielder Bobby Abreu to a 2-year, $19 million deal. The Red Sox on the other hand looked outside their organization, trading for outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins, for a pair of left-handed minor league pitchers, Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.

The Angels move to resign Abreu was pretty smart on their part. Despite being 35, (and 36 when the 2010 season starts) Abreu would have been one of the most coveted hitters on the open market, given his patience and production at the plate. Last season Abreu posted a .293/.390/.435 line (ba/obp/slug), with 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 38 attempts. Abreu is the model of consistency, since 1998, (his first year as a starter) his batting average has never dipped below .283, his on base percentage has always been .370 or higher, and his career slugging percentage is .493. Abreu’s defense has fallen, but his offensive ability still makes him a very productive outfielder. The Angels now have Abreu for at least two more years at $9 million a year. In 2012, they have a $9 million option or a $1 million buyout, guaranteeing Abreu at least $19 million.  Last season Abreu was one of the last free agents to sign, settling for a bargain basement 1 year, $5 million deal, so this was a smart signing for Abreu as well. He may have gotten more money for one year, but he got a second year plus the buyout. On top of that, the option year becomes guaranteed with either 550 plate appearances in 2011 or 1,100 over the next two years. Considering he had over 660 last year, that option will be guaranteed barring some serious injury. The Angels can now focus on their pitching staff, that is in danger of losing ace John Lackey, and their third base spot, where Chone Figgins is a potential free agent.

The Red Sox on the other hand bought themselves some protection in case their top free agent, Jason Bay, decides to move on to greener pastures. Hermida was once a top prospect in the Marlins system, but has never fully capitalized on his potential. He’s been an average defensive outfielder and a solid hitter, but has lacked the power or consistency for a corner outfield spot. 2007 was his best year when he hit .296/.369/.501, but his numbers have dropped since then making him too expensive for the Marlins to offer arbitration too this year, leading to the trade. In reality, he’s not a starter on a playoff caliber team, but there is nothing wrong with the Red Sox hoping that a change of scenery can jump start a young player’s career. Boston should still be looking for a full time replacement for Bay if he leaves, but Hermida could maybe be a platoon option if a starter can’t be found. Hermida hits righties pretty well (though far from spectacular), if Boston can find someone to face lefties, they could still get good production out of left field this season. Hermida is a solid player to have on the bench for Boston, especially when you consider that J.D. Drew has missed at least 22 games in each of his three years with the Red Sox. Given the fact the Red Sox didn’t trade away anything significant I think this is a solid win for Boston, as they look to reshape the roster.

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