According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Chicago White Sox are speaking to the “Red Sox and others” about trading Jose Abreu. One of the other teams in the majors, the Colorado Rockies have attempted to lure the Cuban first baseman to play in Colorado before. Unlike their past pursuits, however, they should aggressively pursue Abreu this time as he fits perfectly into the needs of the Colorado Rockies.
Fit in the lineup
The Colorado Rockies have some serious questions at first base, and Jose Abreu would provide an instant solution to the problem. Last year, the Rockies first basemen had a wRC+ of 87, meaning they were the least productive in the majors regarding contribution to run scoring. Ian Desmond got injured and underwhelmed with a .274 avg, .326 OBP, .375 SLG, .305 wOBA, and 69 wRC+. Mark Reynolds, meanwhile, had a solid first half of the season with a .284 avg, .379 OBP, .513 SLG, .380 wOBA, and 119 wRC+, but had a below average second half with a .243 avg, .314 OBP, .449 SLG, .325 wOBA, and 82 wRC+. Abreu would finally provide some stability to the first issues after hitting for a .304 avg, .354 OBP, 552 SLG, .377 wOBA, and 138 wRC+ in 2017.
Abreu would also provide some lineup balance for the Colorado Rockies, who relied heavily on third baseman Nolan Arenado and centerfielder Charlie Blackmon to score runs. Apart from Blackmon (141 wRC+) and Arenado (129 wRC+), the Rockies only had two other players have an above average contribution to run scoring: catcher Jonathan Lucroy (112 wRC+) and Reynolds (104 wRC+). Adding Abreu would help take pressure off of Blackmon and Arenado while simultaneously providing the Rockies offense with more balance.
Abreu’s tendencies as a hitter would fit perfectly in Colorado. He has never hit less than 25 home runs in a season, and he hit 33 in 2017. Due to his power, hitting fly balls makes more sense to him, and he has taken advantage of this power. In each of his four years in the majors, Abreu’s fly ball percentage has increased and in 2017, it reached 36.4%, the first time he had a fly percentage above the league average. Abreu is starting to hit like the power hitter he is and in the thin air of Denver, that could result in more home runs.
While he fits into the lineup, Abreu has one minor concern: his defense. Last season was the first season he recorded a positive UZR of 0.5. He recorded a positive double play runs above replacement (0.3) and a positive range runs above replacement (1.3) but still had a negative error runs above replacement (-1.0). This concern, however, should not hang the Rockies up too much. Apart from his down year in 2016 which was significantly due to a poor range runs above replacement of -4.0, his defensive numbers have steadily improved.
Cost to acquire
The larger concern for the Rockies is what they would have to give up to acquire Abreu. For the Rockies, they might have to send either Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeman, Jeff Hoffman or German Marquez to the White Sox to make the deal happen. The White Sox have entered a rebuilding stage, so acquiring a young pitcher with plenty of service time left would immensely help the process. The White Sox do not have trade Abreu soon since he still has two seasons of arbitration eligibility and with other teams such as the Red Sox interested, it will take a big name to entice the White Sox to move Abreu. But with Blackmon and second baseman DJ LeMahieu becoming free agents after this season and Arenado becoming a free agent after 2019, the Rockies should consider making a move to win now.
After the Colorado Rockies made the postseason, they have shown they need to improve in several areas to make a deeper run in October. Jose Abreu fills one of their needs on offense, but he could cost the Rockies a young and talented arm. But with the potential of losing Blackmon and Arenado in consecutive seasons looming, the Rockies should seriously consider bringing Jose Abreu to Denver.