Phils sign Abreu to minor-league deal

Posted: January 23, 2014

The Phillies watched with great interest as Bobby Abreu unleashed a recent barrage of home runs in Venezuela. This is, after all, the winter of Phillies reunions - first Larry Bowa, then Marlon Byrd and Charlie Manuel.

Abreu, who turns 40 in March, is the latest.

He signed a minor-league deal Tuesday to attempt a most unlikely comeback with the Phillies. Abreu did not play in American professional baseball last season. He will compete for a spot as a bench player in spring training.

In addition, the Phillies signed journeyman righthander Chad Gaudin to a minor-league deal as depth for their thin starting-rotation corps. He, too, stands a decent chance of breaking camp with the Phillies as a long man or the fifth starter.

Abreu impressed scouts with his winter ball performance. He batted .322 with an .877 OPS in 50 games for Leones del Caracas. He has been even better during postseason play with eight home runs and five doubles in 15 games, including a home run and six RBI on Monday.

The two-time all-star outfielder has spent most of the winter playing right field to show his seriousness about this comeback bid.

The Phillies were not alone in their pursuit; Abreu reportedly generated interest from the Indians and Mets. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wanted a lefthanded bat for his bench, and it appears Abreu will have the inside track. Abreu, according to a CBSSports.com report, will earn $800,000 if he makes the team.

He played nine seasons with the Phillies, from 1998 to 2006, and is one of the franchise's all-time best at reaching base. His .416 on-base percentage ranks fourth in team history and is the modern standard. He is fourth in doubles (348), ninth in runs scored (891), eighth in total bases (2,491), seventh in stolen bases (254), and second in walks (947).

Abreu unceremoniously departed at the 2006 trade deadline when the Phillies traded him to the New York Yankees in a cost-cutting measure. Pat Gillick, then the Phillies general manager, deemed it a necessary move to alter the club's culture. The Phillies began a streak of five straight National League East titles the following season.

Gaudin, 30, is a veteran swingman who thrived last season in San Francisco. He should compete for the fifth starter's job. Jonathan Pettibone has an edge over inexperienced Cuban import Miguel Gonzalez heading into spring, although Gonzalez is the team's preference.

Behind those two, there is almost zero depth, and that is why Gaudin was a match. He started 12 games for the Giants and posted a 3.06 ERA in 30 appearances. His ERA as a starter was 3.53.

The righthander missed the final six weeks of last season with carpal tunnel syndrome. He has never required surgery on his elbow or shoulder. The Phillies are Gaudin's 10th Major League team in 12 seasons.

Gaudin was arrested last January at a Las Vegas hospital for allegedly groping a 23-year-old woman on a gurney. Gaudin's lawyer said the pitcher was in the emergency room at the time for a kidney problem.

He was charged in July with gross lewdness, a misdemeanor. He pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge in September, according to court documents. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and impulse-control counseling.

Bastardo signs. The Phillies and lefthander Antonio Bastardo settled on a one-year, $2 million contract to avoid arbitration.

Bastardo, 28, had asked for $2.5 million and the Phillies submitted a $1.675 salary figure. They settled for just below the midpoint of $2.09 million.

Bastardo earned $1.4 million in 2013 but forfeited nearly $500,000 during his 50-game suspension for his ties to the Biogenesis scandal. The reliever had a 2.32 ERA in 48 games.

Outfielder Ben Revere is the team's only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player.


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb inquirer.com/phillieszone

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