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Transaction Roundup: Phillies/Yankees Swap

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It seemed almost inevitable that Bobby Abreu would end up in pinstripes; all that was needed was the proper package and for Abreu to sign off on his no-trade clause. The Phillies send Abreu and starter Cory Lidle to the Yankees in exchange for 27-year old lefty reliever Matt Smith, last year's first-round draft pick, shortstop C.J. Henry, right-hander Carlos Monasterios, and catcher Jesus Sanchez; the latter two are still in the Gulf Coast League, which means that their futures are in the air, "pre-prospects," as Keith Law called them today.

Considering the quality of the players involved, it's easy to break the deal down as thus: Cory Lidle -- an inexpensive fifth starter option who is superior to the dredge he'll be replacing -- in exchange for the younger minor leaguers and Matt Smith, and then C.J. Henry and a briefcase or two full of money in exchange for Bobby Abreu. Lidle would've garnered the Phillies draft picks anyways, so that is essentially a wash, although one could argue that they may have been able to draft more talented players than the ones they acquired. That's going a little too far with at this stage of the game though, so I'll hold off on that sort of discussion. The Yanks pick up a decent enough League Average Innings Muncher, at the cost of $3.3 million (well, whatever's left of it to pay anyways).

Wilson is not an adequate price to pay in exchange for Bobby Abreu, so the Bombers sweetened the pot by taking on all of the salary, giving the Phillies some relief for the 2007 season, but not much else at all. It's the not much else at all that I have a problem with; the Phillies did not need to deal Bobby Abreu. His homerun power is down somewhat, but he was never that much of a homerun hitter in the first place. He's still slugging doubles all over the place and he is walking in over 20% of all plate appearances. He's been successful 83 percent of the time stealing (20 so far on the year), and his wOBA is actually higher than it was in 2005 or 2003. Abreu was the more attractive trading chip than Pat Burrell for a reason: he's much closer to worth the money he's owed. That's what confuses me about shipping out Abreu rather than pushing Burrell harder, but I'm going to assume the Phils tried it with NY and failed for the same reasons I'm stating now. Let's take a look at Abreu using positionally-adjusted Net Runs Above Average, as well as David Dellucci (his replacement) and the Bernie Williams/Aaron Guiel platoon from NY:

pNRAA for Outfielders
Bobby Abreu 255 .301 97 19.43 -0.17 15.97 .268 24.52 15.86
David Dellucci 94 .293 39 5.64 0.00 4.37 .268 16.79 4.37
Bernie Williams 226 .255 90 -1.85 -8.29 -4.91 .268 -16.48 -9.89
Aaron Guiel 61 .265 26 0.51 1.10 -0.31 .268 -0.72 -0.12

If you didn't know before, Abreu is clearly the best player in the deal. If you didn't know that before though, we need to have a long talk. The drop from Abreu to Delluci is not as severe one might think, especially when you break it down into the remaining 59 games:

pNRAA For Remaining Games
Player pNRAA/59
Bobby Abreu 9.64
David Dellucci 6.60
Bernie Williams -6.48
Aaron Guiel -0.28

Now we see that the Phillies should only lose about +3 pNRAA by using Dellucci, although that assumes that his bat holds up and that he can play everyday with his injury history. The other interesting thing to look at is the net improvement brought on by removing the Williams/Guiel platoon from the field; the Yanks look to gain roughly 16 runs above average from the swap, which should be a couple of additional wins. Add in Cory Lidle's contributions (the #5 starters in NY have combined for half-a-win below replacement level, against Lidle's 2.1 SNLVAR). It's pretty obvious the Yankees gained a potential 3-5 wins from this transaction, which is most likely the largest addition of talent anyone can add this weekend, unless the Red Sox do something very Theo-esque. The clock's ticking though.

As for what the Phils received; Dellucci, as stated, should be able to replicate a large portion of Abreu's production, but not all of it; that of course assumes he can stay healthy and productive. The prospects they have received are of no use to the current incarnation of the club, or the 2007 version, which now has money to spend.

Speaking of money to spend on free agents, has anyone taken a look at the potential list for this winter? It's not pretty. The Phillies should have a few options at catcher (Barajas, Zaun, Molina, LaRue) but none of those players should be ones you need to deal Abreu to be able to afford. They are already set at first, second, shortstop, center, and left field. Pedro Feliz very well may be the most attractive option at third base. Any outfielders who can really help the club will be in relatively the same price range as Bobby Abreu, and probably not even as valuable. I hope for the sake of Phillies' fans everywhere that Gillick doesn't do something insane like throw $8 million per year at potential free agent Gil Meche for his success this season. It's certainly a thin free agent class, and it leads one to wonder if holding on to Abreu for one more season might've been the real solution, rather than dumping him for salary room that might not bring any real relief.