Bobby Abreu’s place with Angels uncertain as trade talks fizzle
TEMPE, Ariz. — The immediate future of one Angels veteran was secured Friday when 39-year-old reliever Jason Isringhausen was told he made the team, but the outlook for 38-year-old outfielder Bobby Abreu remained cloudy with a chance of trade.
The Angels, according to a CBSSports.com report, were “on the verge” of dealing Abreu to the Cleveland Indians Thursday night, but Abreu was in camp Friday and had two singles — his first hits in a week — and drove in two runs in a 9-2 exhibition victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Tempe Diablo Stadium.
The deal between the Angels and Indians “fell apart” over how much of Abreu’s $9-million salary the Indians were willing to assume, according to a source familiar with the talks but not allowed to speak publicly about them.
If the deal isn’t revived, it will mark at least the second failed attempt in two months to trade the disgruntled Abreu, who was nearly dealt to the New York Yankees for pitcher A.J. Burnett.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said Abreu, who prefers to be traded if he isn’t playing regularly. “I don’t think too much [of the rumors]. I’m here.”
Abreu’s role seems to shrink with every weak at-bat — he’s hitting .122 (6 for 49) this spring — and every hit by Kendrys Morales, who is 10 for 20 with two homers and is poised to take over the Angels’ designated hitter role after missing 11/2 seasons because of a broken left ankle.
Manager Mike Scioscia told Abreu in February that he would get 400 plate appearances this season, but with Morales returning and young slugger Mark Trumbo available to play corner outfield and DH, there is little need for Abreu.
With utility players Jorge Cantu and Alexi Amarista having outstanding springs and joining Abreu in a battle for two bench spots, there is a chance the Angels will release Abreu and swallow his contract.
“We’re going with the 25 guys who fit the best together,” General Manager Jerry Dipoto said.
Dipoto would not discuss trade talks involving Abreu, saying only, “I talk to a variety of other clubs every day about players, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Abreu did not speak to Dipoto on Friday. Abreu ducked a question about whether he still thought he’d get 400 plate appearances with the Angels.
“One of the things I’m doing now that’s more important is getting myself ready for the season so that when I do get opportunities to play I can do my best,” Abreu said.
The banter across the clubhouse, where Isringhausen basked in the satisfaction of signing a major league contract that will assure him a spot on the opening day roster and pay him a base salary of $650,000, was a lot more lively.
“Jerry called me [Thursday] night,” said Isringhausen, who was in camp on a minor league deal. “I thanked him for the opportunity and told him I’ll give him everything I’ve got.”
Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, teams had to pay certain qualifying veterans on minor league contracts $100,000 to keep them on rosters past Thursday.
The Angels had until 9 a.m. Friday to make a decision on Isringhausen, who has 300 career saves. Because they signed him to the major league deal, they won’t have to pay the $100,000.
The right-hander struggled with his mechanics and command in two of his first four outings but solidified his spot with one-two-three innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday and Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
“We wanted to see how Izzy would bounce back on back-to-back days, and he came through very well,” Dipoto said. “With the exception of one hiccup, he’s been very steady.”
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