The New York Mets recalled an outfield prospect from Triple-A Las Vegas today. He put up huge numbers and has an excellent approach at the plate. He’s a little on the old side for a prospect, however.
40-year-old Bobby Abreu will wear a Mets uniform for the first time tonight. New York signed the 17-year veteran to a minor league deal after he was cut by the Philadelphia Phillies following Spring Training. Had the Mets not called him up, he would have been able to opt out of his contract. So the Mets have decided to see how much the old dog has left. But how does Abreu fit in to the Mets roster?
The Mets will probably use Abreu as a pinch hitter and a designated hitter in interleague games (although they don’t have one until they play the New York Yankees on May 12). His defense in the outfield has really declined (he had -7 DRS in 2012) and would be a liability if the Mets played him there.
Abreu, even at age 40, has one major skill that has not declined much. He’s famous for his high on base percentage. In his last full season in the majors, Abreu had a .350 combined OBP between stints with the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. For his career he has a .396 OBP. He drew 100 walks or more every season from 1999 to 2006.
One major question mark is how well he will play after temporarily stepping away from the game in 2013. He didn’t show any signs of rust at Triple-A this year. In 45 plate appearances, he hit .395/.489/.579 with four doubles and a home run. Of course, there’s a big difference between Triple-A (especially in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League) and the majors.
With his lack of ability in the field, Abreu is going to have to contribute mightily at the plate if he’s to have any value with the Mets. And if they are forced to put him in the field, he’ll be more of a liability than an asset. This move looks like an audition. If he doesn’t produce offensively, New York will likely run out of patience with him and replace him with Andrew Brown (who was sent down today) or someone else from the minor leagues.