After receiving little to no interest from any major league teams last winter, two former Phillies outfielders left the country to re-establish their respective playing career.
Marlon Byrd revived his bat in Mexico and received a contract with the New York Mets before spring training. Bobby Abreu’s journey was a bit longer, but he is also back in the major leagues - and back with the team where he’ll one day have a place on its Wall of Fame, too.
The Phillies signed Abreu to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp on Tuesday afternoon. According to cbssports.com, which first reported the deal, Abreu will make $800,000 if he makes the major league roster.
Abreu, who turns 40 in March, would seem to be the favorite for the opening on the major league roster for a left-handed bat off the bench.
After failing to land a contract last winter, Abreu took a break from baseball before rebooting his career in his native Venezuela this fall. While playing right field regularly, Abreu hit .322 in 50 games with Leones del Caracas.
When the Venezuelan league’s postseason began, Abreu’s bat continued to shine: he hit eight home runs in 15 games.
Abreu earned himself a big league job in doing so, rejoining the team where he established himself as one of the game’s most consistent hitters. Abreu spent nine of his 17 major league seasons with the Phillies, hitting .303 with a .416 OBP and 195 home runs and 254 stolen bases in 1,353 games.
Abreu, who represented the Phillies at the All-Star Game in 2004 and 2005, is in the top 10 in franchise history in several hitting categories, including: doubles (348, 4th), extra-base hits (585, 6th), walks (947, 2nd), on-base percentage (.416, 4th) and home runs (195, 10th).
The Phillies first acquired Abreu in a Nov. 1997 trade with Tampa Bay, in a trade for shortstop Kevin Stocker. Nine years later, just before the 2006 trade deaden, the Phillies dealt Abreu and pitcher Cory Lidle to the New York Yankees for C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith.
Of those four players, only Smith appeared in a game for the Phillies, and his major-league career was over following the 2007 season. Abreu spent the next 6 1/2 seasons with the Yankees, Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.