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With Mike Napoli’s deal in jeopardy, the Boston Red Sox have reportedly started looking into other options at first base. According to The Boston Herald, Bobby Abreu’s name is on the table as one of those options. However, this is just a background check, which means the Sox are just in the preliminary stages of the process. What the Red Sox need to do is stay as far away from Abreu as possible.
The veteran outfielder will turn 39 in March and has really been on a downhill track over the past several seasons. He has bounced around different teams in recent years, and even playing in the National League again did not resurrect his career.
That being said, the Red Sox need a mobile first baseman – a position Abreu has never manned, for the record – who can play for several years before they find someone in their farm system to take over the job. For instance, Mauro Gomez could be ready for the everyday job in a couple seasons and he will be a great fit. Having someone as old as Abreu will not help the Red Sox in the meantime.
A first baseman needs to be agile and able make defensive plays, whether it’s reeling in an off-target throw or making that diving stop to prevent a ball from going down the line for extra bases. Abreu will likely lack that type of speed at first with his age and his reaction time will be one that is slower than some of the younger options out there.
In the last two seasons, Abreu has struggled to stay on the field and has failed to produce at a rate worth paying for. He essentially did not start a game in the majors after July 2012 due to struggles with the Dodgers.
In 2012, he hit .242 and hit a grand total of three home runs in 100 games. He drove in just 24 runs and failed to steal 10 or more bases for the first time in his career since 1997. Despite playing in 100 games, Abreu only had 219 at-bats in the 2012 season, not receiving more than one token plate appearance per game as he was relegated to late-game pinch-hitting duties.
His struggles were about the same in 2011. That season he hit .253 with eight homers and 60 RBI, and produced all of 1.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
Abreu does have the ability to work the count and get on base with those much-needed walks, but the Red Sox need someone who can provide some pop more than eight times a season. The first base position is offensively driven and Abreu is not even close to reliable anymore to produce the type of offensive numbers needed out of that position.
This type of production is not what the Red Sox need during a year when fans expect something good to possibly happen. Yes, the Sox are signing veterans for more than market value, but they need to stick to the plan that will help the team both in 2013 and for many years to come.