Angels re-sign Abreu
Last summer the Angels spent about $1,600 buying a couple of baubles for Bobby Abreu in recognition of career milestones the outfielder achieved largely while playing for other teams.
As it turns out, that might be the best money the team has ever spent.
Because Thursday the outfielder announced he would pass up free agency to re-sign with the Angels. And he said those two crystal mementos helped seal the deal.
“Those trophies they gave me, it meant a lot,” Abreu said. “And I really respect the Angels for doing that.”
Of course the fact the club followed up with a two-year, $19-million contract with a club option for a third season at $9 million didn’t hurt either.
But in a conference call from Las Vegas, where he is vacationing, Abreu spoke repeatedly of the appreciation the Angels showed for him -- something he didn’t always feel in Philadelphia and New York, where he thought his consistency was taken for granted.
“The Angels let people know about what I’m doing. It meant to lot,” Abreu said.
Abreu signed a one-year, $5-million deal just before spring training and rewarded the Angels with a .293 batting average, 96 runs, 103 runs batted in, 30 steals and 94 walks. But he helped in other ways too, constantly counseling young players such as Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis and Kendry Morales about their approaches at the plate.
All three players responded with career years, helping the Angels to not only their third consecutive division title, but also to franchise records for batting, hits, runs and RBIs.
Individually, Abreu, 35, played in 152 games, making him the fifth player in history to play in at least 150 games in 12 straight seasons. He also topped 100 RBIs for the seventh year in a row, stole at least 20 bases for the 11th consecutive season and became the sixth player ever to collect 250 home runs, 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs, 1,000 RBIs, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases.
“We are extremely delighted to have Bobby back in our organization for the next two years,” General Manager Tony Reagins said. “He was tremendous in our clubhouse as well as on the field. It was an easy decision for us to bring Bobby back.”
Reagins said Thursday the deal was completed “in the last 48 hours,” but the Angels waited until after the World Series to announce it.
“We did move quickly on this one,” Reagins said. “We thought Bobby was a priority for our organization moving forward.”
But while Abreu and the Angels were coming to terms, three other players -- pitchers Darren Oliver and John Lackey and infielder Robb Quinlan -- were among the 79 major leaguers who elected for free agency Thursday.
Lackey could command a five-year deal worth as much as $100 million as a free agent, which would probably make him too rich for the Angels. The club would also like to bring back Oliver, who was 5-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 63 games, but the 39-year-old left-hander is considering retirement.
Among the Angels expected to declare for free agency in the coming days are third baseman Chone Figgins and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero. Offers for Figgins are likely to start around $50 million for five years, while the 34-year-old Guerrero, who did not play in the field in a injury-marred 2009 season, is likely to receive much less attention.
The Angels also have eight players eligible for arbitration, among them 16-game winners Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver, catchers Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli and middle infielders Aybar and Izturis.