Simply put, any move made by the White Sox general manager would have to be a dollar-for-dollar sort of deal.
With that idea firmly in mind, the story in Tuesday's New York Daily News of the White Sox making free-agent outfielder Bobby Abreu a one-year, $8 million offer would not make much sense -- at least on paper. Add in the fact that the White Sox already have a right fielder in Jermaine Dye who was a bona fide Most Valuable Player candidate in 2008, not to mention an opening in center and not one of the two corner outfield slots, and it holds even less strength.
But the idea is far from completely implausible.
"He is a great player and can help any club," said Williams via e-mail to MLB.com, not confirming or denying the Abreu offer, staying consistent with his offseason policy. "But I just have stopped responding to every blogger's post."
Abreu, who turns 35 on March 11, has the type of offensive approach favored by the White Sox. Prior to 2007, Abreu posted eight straight seasons with at least 100 walks. He has a career on-base percentage of .405, with eight of his nine seasons prior to 2007 featuring that particular statistic at .400 or above, and finished tied for third in the American League with 4.3 pitches per at-bat in 2008.
The power numbers have dipped a bit in the last two years for Abreu, with 36 home runs combined, but the White Sox already have plenty of home run potential in Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez and even Josh Fields. Abreu still produced 201 RBIs in those same two years and has had one year under 100 RBIs in the last eight. Abreu has scored at least 98 runs in each of the last 10 years, with eight of those seasons at 100 runs scored or more. His 318 career stolen bases, including 25 in 2007 and 22 in 2008, could make him a non-traditional sort of leadoff hitter, spoken of last week by Williams, if the White Sox reached an agreement with Abreu.
There really doesn't seem to be a thought of this signing, though, without a trade to follow, based on Williams' recent comments. Thome and Konerko both have full no-trade clauses, meaning Dye would be the only logical move, with Abreu taking over in right. Dye, who turned 35 on Jan. 28, spoke at SoxFest over the weekend concerning the plethora of offseason trade rumors attached to his name and seemed to be able to calmly put them all in the rearview mirror.
"It's just part of baseball," Dye said. "Any time your contract is coming up to the end, you are talked about in all kinds of trades. You learn to listen, read about it and move on."
Dye probably would command young pitching prospects in return, but the question arises as to why a team looking to trade for Dye wouldn't just sign Abreu. If Abreu's offers are in the one-year, $8 million range as reported, then their salary isn't much different with Dye set to earn $11.5 million in 2008. Dye has a $12 million mutual option for 2010, with a $1 million buyout.
Both can hit, play serviceable outfield defense and stand out as strong clubhouse presences.All of this analysis is hypothetical, even factoring in Williams' response concerning the matter Tuesday afternoon.
There is a strong bond of friendship existing between Abreu and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and his family. But that same bond existed for pitcher Freddy Garcia, along with a past history with the South Siders, and Garcia opted to sign for a greater potential incentive package presented by the Mets.
Ultimately, there might be a better deal out there for Abreu, who reportedly had hoped for a three-year, $45 offer when he first entered free agency. The strained economic climate has adjusted expectations for all parties involved.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.