BOSTON - The Detroit Tigers appear to have serious interest in acquiring Phillies rightfielder Bobby Abreu.
They have not talked deal specifics, but Phillies general manager Pat Gillick acknowledged that the scouting circles have been abuzz with the Tigers' rabid interest in lefthanded hitting.
No thanks, Gillick said.
"I know they're looking for lefthanded hitters, but we're not getting rid of hitting right now," Gillick said.
Abreu is hitting .290 with eight homers, 51 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Since becoming a full-time starter for the Phillies in 1998, Abreu, 32, has hit .305 and has averaged nearly 24 homers, 100 RBI and 30 steals a season.
The Tigers have good, young pitching, and they might be willing to give up a righthanded-hitting outfielder. They also seem willing to assume much, if not all, of Abreu's salary. He is the highest-paid Phillie: $13 million this season and $15 million next season. There is a club option for $16 million for 2008 with a $2 million buyout.
Abreu also holds a full no-trade clause, which he did not seem eager to waive to land in Detroit, even if the deal included the Tigers picking up the $16 million option.
"I'd have to think about all of that," Abreu said.
The Yankees and Tigers are among the clubs showing interest in the Devil Rays' Aubrey Huff, who is batting .316 in June after hitting .182 in April and .175 in May.
Huff, 29, is precisely the type of second-tier offensive acquisition that would make sense for the Yankees, whose primary focus is pitching.
The Devil Rays wouldn't require a significant prospect for Huff if the Yankees assumed the balance of his $6.9 million salary. The Rays could redirect the savings toward other needs.
Huff has played third base exclusively this season, but he would be an outfielder and DH for the Yankees. He also could fill the Tigers' need for a left-handed hitting outfielder and serve as a platoon partner for first baseman Chris Shelton.
Left-hander Mark Hendrickson, another Devil Ray attracting trade interest, would make sense for a contender looking for help in the back of its rotation.
The last thing the Rays need to do is trade their only quality starter besides lefty Scott Kazmir, but they might be open to moving Hendrickson if they received younger pitching in return.
Hendrickson, 32, is earning $1.95 million in his first year of salary arbitration. He is 4-8 with a 3.81 ERA in 13 starts.
I like the idea of Huff, he is much easier on the budget than Abreu. Plus he can play 1B or 3B. Shelton's ongoing struggles at 1st make finding an alternative necessary.
Abreu would also take much more to acquire than Huff. As much as Phillie might want to get out from under his contract, I don't think they'd give him away cheap.
I'm not a huge Huff fan, but he could be cheap. With the way Shelton is hitting right now, Huff's looking pretty good. I wouldn't be too excited about his ability to "play" third base though. I'd rather stick with Infante as the main backup at third. He also makes the outfield play of Monroe, Thames and Ordonez look good, so don't count me on the bandwagon that says Huff is a fine utility player because he is not. As I said before, if we get him on the cheap, then I'm all for it and he can replace Chris "K machine, Carlos Pena V2" Shelton. Then Carlos Pena V2 can go to the minors and work on everything that's gone wrong. Good deal as long as the names Verlander, Zumaya, Miner, Sanchez, Ledezma, Jair Jurrjens (I can't remember how to spell his name for the life of me just in case it's wrong), Maybin, and a couple of other young players whose names have slipped my mind right now are nowhere to be found in the trade.
I think Abreu is just too perfect for the Tigers. He's an on base machine and would push Monroe to the bench and Thames to DH. Too good to be true and I'm unsure as to what the Tigers should be willing to give up for him. Certainly not Verlander or Zumaya as they are too integral to the team right now AND the loss of either one would thin out the pitching a little. I figure Maybin and Humberto Sanchez/Wil Ledezma might get the job done, but is that too steep? Budget wise? Screw it. Go for the goal. Just be a bit wary of selling the farm.
I still wonder if they will need to add pitching in addition to a hitter. Things are going well right now, but we are relying on an awful lot of rookies, not to mention a couple of older fellows in Jones and Rogers.
Those White Sox aren't going away and I don't expect them to, so I hope our great GM "Dumbrowki" is keeping an eye out.
``We are not getting Bobby Abreu,'' Jim Leyland said this afternoon. ``Nor are we pursuing him. End of conversation.''
And who believes this for a second? Managers are well known for shooting down trade rumors and sending out mixed signals to protect his team and throw off the opposition. A recent example of something similar was when LaRussa said Pujols wouldn't play until after the Tigers series and what happened? Pujols was out there the game before the Tiger series and every game during the Tiger series. Of course, LaRussa is also a guy Leyland learned a lot from working with him in the past.
When Leyland says "We are not getting Bobby Abreu", it means absolutely nothing to me. In fact, the way he made sure to go even further and say that we aren't even pursuing him makes me think that these are more than just rumors as opposed to making me think otherwise.
The team hasn't shown any immediate need for a trade acquisition, but there is still a month left or so for them to make a move (or two) if they decide to put themselves in even better position to make the playoffs and perhaps even more, but that is up to the GM.
I'm expecting more trades by other teams before the Tigers get active. I'm thinking at this point, the Tigers are waiting until the last possible minute. I do think they will get somebody, but I'm not so sure it will be as significant of a player as we are hoping (ie. Abreu) and whomever it is will almost definitely play LF.
This is a little disappointing in that I don't know that the DRays were asking that much. We could have packaged Tata and Dimitri Young for Huff. Okay, DaMeatHook and some cash. That way they could have a SP who is ready to take the mound in Tampa and have Delmon's older bro to show him how to conduct himself as a pro. Okay, it's a little flawed.
But couldn't the Tigers have come up with something better to offer without destroying the core of the franchise?
Don't know how much stock to put into an Abreu trade. He seems overvalued at this point and the Phillies would surely want a lot for him.