The Phillies are eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the ALCS so they can meet their worthy foe in the World Series. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are eagerly awaiting the end of the series for another reason: free agency.
The sooner the field is narrowed down to two teams, the sooner the Sox can begin courting a few of the gems in this winter's free agent market. Of those gems, the Sox might want to set their eyes on one Bobby Abreu.
Coincidentally, Abreu has spent the last 12 years of his career split among the Phils, Yankees and Angels. He's holding down right field for the Halos now, but he's in the final year of his contract, and if the Yankees should emerge victorious in Game 6 on Sunday night, his time in Anaheim will be over.
Abreu is the perfect player for Boston's lineup — he's a corner outfielder with some pop, he gets on base efficiently and he's smart on the base paths. The Red Sox would be honored to have Abreu in the heart of their order.
Right now, the Sox have David Ortiz (signed through 2010) penciled in at DH and J.D. Drew (through 2011) in right field, but with Jason Bay on the verge of free agency, there may be an opening in Boston.
If Bay walks, Abreu is a solid backup plan. However, Abreu might be a good fit as a fourth outfielder in Boston even if Bay does stay. But he turns 36 in spring training next year and he's not going to be a marquee player forever. Abreu made just $5 million in his one-year contract with the Angels this season, signed just days before pitchers and catchers reported in February, which indicates that big-league general managers are hesitating to take a risk on him.
For the Red Sox, he'd be an appropriate risk. Boston has proven to be willing to pay for good on-base guys in their lineup. They've given a pretty penny to Drew, to Mike Lowell and to Kevin Youkilis and Abreu could have the same impact.
The Red Sox have already seen — quite recently, in fact — what Abreu can do. He torched them in their three-game sweep in the ALDS, going 5-for-14 with two doubles and four walks. You have to imagine that while watching Abreu put on a clinic in Anaheim, the Red Sox might have thought to themselves once or twice that the man would look better in a Red Sox uniform.
Abreu has given no indication yet that he's still interested in Boston. And why would he? At the moment, he's still out there playing and the Angels are still alive in their hunt for a championship. But if they should fall short in the ALCS, and the Yankees move on to the Fall Classic, it will be time for Abreu to assess his future in Anaheim.
Wherever he goes, he's not likely to ask for much money. He was a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Angels — they paid out a modest salary and got a .390 on-base percentage, 20 homers and 29 doubles in return. Abreu may still be able to offer solid production, but at his age, you'll find him in the bargain bin.
He'd be a solid pickup for the Red Sox. One way or another, they'd find him a job. He could play left field, he could play right and move Drew to left, he could platoon with Papi and DH, or he could come off the bench. No matter what, he'd be a boon to the Sox lineup.
Bobby Abreu won't be the Red Sox' top priority this offseason. Without a doubt, that title goes to Bay. But Abreu, while he might slide under the radar a little bit, is a solid player in his own right.