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Angels showing serious interest in Bobby Abreu

They appear to be the clear-cut favorite to sign the free-agent outfielder before the start of spring training Saturday.

February 11, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

The Angels, in dire need of a power boost from the left side, have expressed serious interest in Bobby Abreu and are expected to sign the free-agent outfielder to a one-year deal by the start of spring training Saturday.

Abreu, who turns 35 on March 11, is scheduled to undergo a physical in Southern California today, according to a source who is familiar with negotiations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Foxsports.com reported on Tuesday that the Angels have asked outright waivers on minor league pitcher Nick Green to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, presumably for Abreu.

"The Angels have expressed interest, and we've been talking to them -- they're definitely one of the more interesting situations for Bobby," said Peter Greenberg, Abreu's agent. "But at this point, I don't want to say much more than that.

"Several teams have expressed interest, and the Angels are definitely high on Bobby's list. It's a good city, a winning team, and he has some friends over there."

Abreu, primarily a right fielder and designated hitter, would fill the role of departed free agent Garret Anderson in an outfield/DH rotation that includes Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera, who all bat right-handed.

The appeal of Abreu, who could ease the sting of Mark Teixeria's loss to the New York Yankees, goes beyond his career .300 batting average, .405 on-base percentage and his six straight seasons with at least 100 runs batted in.

It's his price tag. Abreu was believed to be seeking a deal in the three-year, $48-million range when he filed for free agency last November, but because of the sagging economy and a surplus of available left-handed bats, he will likely sign for between $5 million and $7 million.

"We'd still like a multi-year deal, but if he doesn't get what he wants, he'll be fine with a one-year deal," Greenberg said. "Then, he could re-establish his market value and hope for better luck next year. He might be faced with that."

Abreu hit .296 with 20 homers, 100 RBIs, 73 walks and 22 stolen bases for the Yankees last season but was not offered arbitration, so the Angels will not have to relinquish any draft picks to sign him.

Without Abreu, the Angels' only left-handed power threat in the lineup would be switch-hitting first baseman Kendry Morales, who has 20-homer potential but has never been a big league starter.

With Abreu, Manager Mike Scioscia will be able to break up some of those right-handed bats in the middle of his order and ease some of the pressure on Morales by dropping him to a lower spot in the lineup.

Abreu, a 6-foot, 210-pound native of Aragua, Venezuela, will also provide some insurance in case outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. does not fully recover from surgery to repair the patella tendon in his left knee.

Matthews is not expected to be ready for the season opener but could return shortly thereafter, creating an outfield glut similar to the one the Angels had last season.

The Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and Chicago White Sox reportedly expressed interest in Abreu, whom Greenberg believes is athletic enough to move over to left field, if needed.

According to ESPN.com, Abreu, who has spent his entire big league career with the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees, joined Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson last season as the only players to amass 200 homers and 300 stolen bases while maintaining a .400 on-base percentage.

Abreu is also one of five players with 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in each of the last two seasons. The others are Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, David Wright and Adrian Gonzalez.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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Career at a glance

A look at the career statistics for Bobby Abreu, who made his major-league debut in 1996 with Houston:

*--* GP AB R H HR RBI BB SO AVG. 1,799 6,490 1,174 1,946 241 1,084 1,160 1,405 300 *--*

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