Bobby Abreu has had an incredibly consistent career, at least from an offensive standpoint. From 1998-2007, his OBP never fell below the .393 mark. He has knocked in 98 or more runners each year since 1999. In that same span he has never recorded less than 35 doubles, a walk rate below 14.5%, or a BABIP lower than .327. Additionally, in the ten seasons from 1999-2008, Abreu has hit the 20 HR-20 SB mark eight times, even reaching the 30-30 mark on two of those occasions. For his career, he is right around a .300/.400/.500 slash line, with 241 home runs, 318 stolen bases, and a WPA/LI of 37.03. When he decides to retire, he will be remembered as a great offensive player, one who never truly became the superstar many felt he could become, but who still put together quite the impressive resume.
Some of these numbers have taken a turn for the worse over the last two seasons, however. His OBP fell to .369 in 2007 and .371 in 2008. His ISO has dropped from .242 in 2004 to .176 right now, which is higher than the .162 posted the year prior. Primarily known for having a great eye at the plate, Abreu’s ability to lay off of pitches out of the zone has diminished as well, as his O-Swing% has risen from 10% in 2005 to 16% over the past two seasons. Almost a direct result, the walk rate, never before lower than 14.5%, was 12.2% in 2007, and just 10.7% in 2008. Essentially, this is a case of an aging player losing the skills that make him effective.
Abreu is now a 34-yr old free agent, who will turn 35 during Spring Training of 2009. According to recent reports, he is seeking a deal worth 45 million dollars spread over three seasons. The Yankees and Mets are both seemingly shying away from his asking price, which brings forth the idea that he just is not worth the investment. If so, what exactly is he worth?
From 2006-08, his WPA/LI is an aggregate 5.73. Using some weighting, I am quite comfortable deeming him as a true talent 1.8 win above average player. Defensively, however, is another story. Via the + – system, Bobby has either been the worst, or among the worst, rightfielders in baseball over the past three seasons, posting a -14, -14, and -24. We’ll call him a true talent -17 fielder, which amounts to about 1.5 wins. Before any adjustments are even made, we are now looking at a player worth about 0.3 wins above average. As a corner outfielder, though, -0.5 wins must be docked via a positional adjustment, and +2.0 wins must be added to give us a total above a replacement player. 1.8 + 2.0 – 0.5 – 1.5 = 1.8.
With this in mind, Bobby Abreu is worth about 1.8 wins above a replacement player. Multiply that total by the 5.5 million dollar per win free agency rate, and the grand total is 9.9 million, which will be rounded up to 10 million. Essentially, based on his true talent level right now, if Abreu were to sign a one year deal, a fee of ten million dollars would be appropriate. Since he is seeking a three-year deal, a 10% discount rate comes into play, deeming an appropriate contract worth 27 million dollars over three seasons. Abreu is currently seeking about 18 million dollars more than he is worth. If some team can convince him to serve as a DH, then his asking price may not be in the realm of the absurd, but 15 million dollars per year for a very bad defensive corner outfielder currently losing the offensive skills that allow him to stay in the lineup should not be very realistic.
Abreu was my favorite Phillies player growing up, and my second favorite player to Greg Maddux, but at this stage in the game, he just isn’t worth what he is asking.