Jose Abreu has been one of the best first basemen in the game since 2014, when he broke into the league by winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. He has also earned two All-Star nods and a Silver Slugger award at first base.
In a lean year for AL first basemen, the Yankees have been near the bottom of the barrel as far as production at the position goes. So far, they have combined for 0.6 fWAR and 93 wRC+, which ranks 12th in the American league.
Brian Cashman did just send Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the Cardinals for a right-handed hitting first baseman named Luke Voit as well as $1 million in international pool money. That trade seems more targeted at adding international pool money and depth as Voit was immediately assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Trading for Abreu would not be a depth move. While it’s true that Abreu is in the midst of a down year, he remains an above average hitter, posting 110 wRC+ so far this season. He has shown that he is still plenty capable of being an impact power bat from the right side of the plate.
With Bird struggling to find his swing throughout the first half of the season, and Aaron Judge being sidelined for three weeks, an impact right-handed power bat that can play first base and DH could be exactly what the Yankees need.
The White Sox are currently 24 games back of the second wild card, and 19.5 back of the Indians in the AL Central. Despite all that, they don’t seem very inclined to trade Abreu.
The Chicago #Whitesox are strongly inclined now to keep 1B Jose Abreu instead of trading him— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 21, 2018
Combined with the fact that Abreu is under contract for the 2019 season, and will likely command over $10 million in arbitration, this deal seems highly unlikely to happen. The Yankees have said time and again they believe in Greg Bird as the first basemen of the future, despite a stop and start beginning to his career that has yielded mixed results.
Bird has rewarded the Yankees for their patience as of late, hitting .276/.356/.487 with four home runs since the beginning of July. As far as right-handed options at first to platoon with Bird, Neil Walker has come on strong as of late after his slow start. Walker is hitting .365./435./500 since July 1st, and has arguably been the best hitter on the team other than Judge during that span.
At first glance Abreu is an interesting option to fix a spot of weakness on the offensive side. With recent changes in circumstance, the Yankees’ likely unwillingness to commit to Abreu for 2019, and the White Sox’s inclination to hold on to Abreu at least for this season, this trade seems like an extreme long shot.