Thursday, February 12, 2009
Angels tickled to have Abreu in lineup
ESPN.com news services
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels were content heading to spring training with what they had. Then came a deal that was simply too good to pass up.
The Angels agreed to a one-year contract with veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu, moving quickly to add a left-handed bat and some significant pop to a lineup that struggled scoring runs last season.
The Angels agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract with Abreu, moving quickly to add a left-handed bat and some significant pop to a lineup that struggled scoring runs last season.
"I'm just happy to have the opportunity to be with one of the teams that's going to have an opportunity to be in the playoffs and win a championship," said Abreu, who was headed back to his home in Venezuela. "I'm very excited about it."
Abreu can make an additional $1 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each for 500, 550, 600 and 650 plate appearances.
According to MLB.com, right-hander Nick Green was removed from the Angels' 40-man roster and then picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 34-year-old right-fielder batted .296 with 100 RBIs and 20 homers for the New York Yankees last season. He filed for free agency for the first time in November and was believed to be seeking a three-year deal, but nothing materialized as the economy forced teams to carefully consider their bottom lines.
Abreu's value on the market was also hurt by a crowded free-agent list that included Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Edmonds and Adam Dunn, who agreed to a $20 million, two-year deal with the Washington Nationals.
"It was tough," Abreu said. "I thought by November, December, I was going to have a contract. I was looking for something multiyear, but the economic situation right now, everybody's going through it, you know? So I do understand that."
Abreu joins a rotation of Angels outfielders and designated hitters that includes Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Juan Rivera and Gary Matthews Jr.
General manager Tony Reagins said it will be up to manager Mike Scioscia to decide how to use Abreu, but with Guerrero entrenched in right field, Abreu will probably end up moving to left field for the first time since a 10-game stint there with the Houston Astros in 1997 -- his second year in the league.
"I like to be in the field most of the time," said Abreu, who expects to DH once in a while but wants to play about 150 games in the outfield. "Moving me to left field will give me a lot of opportunities."
The Angels were prepared to head to spring training in Tempe, Ariz., with what they had when Abreu's agent, Peter Greenberg, called to gauge their interest in him. The two sides started talking last week and quickly hammered out the terms.
"What we tried to accomplish was bringing a player in that would impact us in a significant way," Reagins said. "What was really important to us is Bobby wanted to be an Angel."
Abreu, who is on Venezuela's roster for next month's World Baseball Classic, plans to report to spring training Feb. 17.
With a .405 career on-base percentage and an ability to work deep counts, Abreu offers the club a patient left-handed hitter to bat ahead of righty Guerrero in a lineup that was 10th in runs scored in the American League last year. This past season, he joined Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson as the only players with 200 career homers, 300 steals and a .400 on-base average.
Abreu, who has a career .300 batting average with the Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees, has stolen at least 20 bases in each of the past 10 seasons.
His left-handed bat helps fill a hole in the lineup left by Garret Anderson, a free agent who spent his entire 15-year career with the Angels, and first baseman Mark Teixeira, who signed a $180 million, eight-year contract with the Yankees.
"As I had talked about, we were continually looking for opportunities to improve the club. This opportunity made a lot of sense to us," Reagins said. "This is a tremendous player and we feel he's going to be very, very good for us."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.