The Phillies, still looking for a left-handed bat to come off the bench, are “sniffing around” on Bobby Abreu, multiple baseball sources tell CSNPhilly.com.
According to ESPN.com, Abreu has signed a minor league deal to return to the Phils, who have not made an official announcement.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did not deny gathering intelligence on the veteran outfielder, who turns 40 in March.
“We’re looking at all the left-handed bats still out there and he’s one of them,” Amaro said.
Abreu spent nine of his 17 big-league seasons with the Phillies before sitting out last season. He hit .322 with three homers, 28 RBIs and a .877 OPS in 50 games in the Venezuelan league this winter and is looking to make a comeback in the majors.
If Abreu gets a job with a big-league club it would likely come on a minor-league contract with a chance to prove himself in spring training.
Amaro said Phillies personnel has scouted Abreu in Venezuela.
“Bobby has had a nice winter season,” Amaro said. “We have decent reports on him.”
Could he be the lefty bat off the bench the Phillies are looking for?
“Well, with the way he’s swung the bat, he could,” Amaro said. “We’ll see. We’ll see whether he’s a viable option.”
Abreu starred for the Phillies from 1998 to 2006. He put up stellar offensive numbers – a .303 batting average, 195 home runs and a .928 OPS in 1,353 games with the Phils.
Former Phillies GM Pat Gillick traded Abreu to the Yankees in July 2006. Gillick later said trading Abreu helped change the culture of the Phillies and allowed players like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to step into leadership roles.
The Phillies broke a 14-year playoff drought by winning the NL East in 2007. They won the World Series in 2008.
Abreu has eight 100-RBI seasons on his ledger, but his production dropped precipitously with the Angels and Dodgers in 2011 and 2012, leading to his hiatus in 2013.
The Phils had previous interest in left-handed-hitting Lyle Overbay, but he went off the board when he signed a minor-league deal with Milwaukee on Monday.