Abreu suitors will have to flash cash to get outfielder
As trade rumors continue to swirl around Philadelphia outfielder Bobby Abreu, the $15 million owed him for 2007 stands as a potential deterrent to any club interested in making a deal.
In reality, the acquisition cost could be a whole lot higher than that.
Abreu's five-year, $64 million contract with the Phillies includes a complete no-trade clause. Agent Peter Greenberg told ESPN.com that if Abreu consents to waive it, he's going to expect some sort of compensation in return.
That could mean that his new club agrees to pick up his $16 million option in 2008, or gives him a contract extension. Either way, Abreu's next team will have to pay.
"Bobby likes it in Philadelphia," Greenberg said. "He has a home there. That's the reason he worked so hard for that full no-trade clause and it was so important to him. One of the things he's always wanted to do is be a lifetime Phillie and break a bunch of the team records.
"He has a full no-trade clause and it's probably going to take something for him to waive that. [His next team] would probably have to pick up the option, or maybe extend him. He's definitely going to want something for the no-trade clause."
Abreu, 32, is a two-time All-Star, a career .302 hitter, and the 2005 All-Star Game Home Run Derby champion. He ranks second in the National League to Albert Pujols with a .442 on-base percentage this season, but he has only eight home runs in 297 at-bats, and he's been subject to criticism and heckling from fans in Philadelphia this year for his defense in right field.
Abreu is, however, batting .337 (28 for 83) with runners in scoring position, and several contenders consider him and Washington's Alfonso Soriano as the two most readily attainable impact bats on the market.
Philadelphia general manager Pat Gillick declined comment Monday. But with the Phillies a disappointing 42-48 in the National League East, Gillick might be on his way to trading several veterans before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers and even the Brewers have been mentioned as clubs with a possible interest in Abreu. "I like Bobby Abreu. Everybody likes Bobby Abreu," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner told reporters Sunday in the Bronx.
Greenberg said that when trade rumors swirled around Abreu last winter, Gillick and Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. both assured him that Abreu wasn't being shopped. He said the Phillies have not contacted him to debunk the latest round of speculation.
"I have gotten calls from other teams asking me, 'Would Bobby want to come here?'" Greenberg said. "I don't know if that means the Phillies are offering Bobby around or if other teams are asking for him."
Greenberg said he suspects that the trade speculation might be weighing on Abreu.
"Bobby's an even-keeled guy," Greenberg said. "He always seems calm, cool and collected. But what he says and how he really feels might be two different things. He knows he holds the hammer, that they can't do anything without him approving it. I think that's of some comfort to him."
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN Insider.