The Milwaukee Brewers are looking to upgrade their roster heading into the 2018 season in their hopes to make the postseason for the first time since 2011. First base isn’t seen as a need, but nothing should be off the table.
It’s no secret the Chicago White Sox are rebuilding. They’ve sold off many highly productive players such as Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Todd Frazier in order to hoard as many top prospects as possible. One player they haven’t moved yet is first baseman Jose Abreu.
The Brewers are known to like Abreu. They offered him $64 million after he defected from Cuba prior to the 2014 season. The White Sox offered $68 million and Abreu chose Chicago. Since going to the South Side, Abreu has been absolutely ridiculous. He’s hit 30 or more home runs in three of his four seasons with at least 100 RBIs each year. He’s hit at least .290 every year and finished 2017 with a .304/.354/.552 line.
Abreu rates as a league average defender. His bat does most of the talking and he would love knocking home runs out to left field in Miller Park. MLBTR recently outlined Abreu’s trade market and the Milwaukee Brewers showed up on that list.
What about Eric Thames?
Thames is only a few months older than Abreu and both are controlled through the 2019 season. While Eric Thames only has $12 million guaranteed left, Abreu has two rounds of arbitration to go. Abreu projects to earn $17.9 million next year. If a trade is to be made, Thames would need to go to Chicago as part of the return.
While Abreu is an obvious upgrade over Thames in terms of statistics, making the switch raises a different issue. With the additions of Thames and Travis Shaw, the Milwaukee Brewers finally balanced their lineup with left handed bats. Abreu is a righty. Although his bat is much more consistent, filling the lineup with more right-handed power than left-handed can have negative side effects.
What will adding Abreu cost the Brewers?
Abreu is the model of consistency at the plate, while Eric Thames had various hot and cold stretches throughout his inaugural season in Milwaukee. Abreu does come with a greater price tag in terms of dollars. The price in prospects to acquire Abreu in the first place will also be costly.
Thames has already endeared himself to the Milwaukee Brewers fanbase. There’s also no real need to move him. However, if David Stearns sees an opportunity for an upgrade, there’s no reason not to look into it. The price would need to be right for Stearns to add Abreu. He won’t get himself into a bidding war for Abreu, but there’s no denying the upgrade over Thames.
The odds of Jose Abreu coming to Milwaukee are extremely low. The free agent market has plenty of first baseman and not that many teams may call on Abreu this winter. Of course, Chicago could just hold onto him until July and move him when there’s more demand for an impact bat. The Brewers don’t necessarily need him, but David Stearns will pounce on a good opportunity if he sees one.