The New York Mets have designated 40-year-old outfielder Bobby Abreu for assignment, the club has announced. Taking Abreu's place on the active roster will be outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who has been recalled from Triple-A.
After skipping out on the entirety of the 2013 season, Abreu's 2014 comeback as a bench bat for the Mets has gone surprisingly well, especially considering his advanced age. In 142 plate appearances, Abreu has hit .238/.331/.336 with a .303 wOBA and 94 OPS+, though his defense has been particularly atrocious, leading to a -0.6 WAR. He has cooled off since his hot start (.897 OPS through the end of May), but is still drawing walks at a high rate (12.7%) while striking out at just a 14.8% clip.
It's unclear if this signals the end of Abreu's 18-year career, as he may still be picked up on a minor league deal or by a contender in need of a patient pinch hitter. As for Abreu's part, he isn't ready to retire just yet, telling MLB.com's Anthony DiComo that he is still keeping his options open.
Were Abreu to hang up the spikes, he would retire with one of the most underrated careers in recent memory, as well as a borderline Hall of Fame case. Over the course of 18 seasons with the Astros, Phillies, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, and Mets, Abreu has hit .291/.395/.475 with a 128 OPS+, 2,466 hits, 288 home runs, 574 doubles, 400 stolen bases, and 1,474 walks, while accruing a 59.9 bWAR.
The 26-year-old Nieuwenhuis owns a 93 OPS+ and 1.0 WAR in 489 major league plate appearances over the past three years. He has played in 30 games with the Mets this season, hitting a career-best .246/.328/.509 with a 136 OPS+. In 229 plate appearances at Triple-A Las Vegas this year, Nieuwenhuis has hit .265/.319/.512 with 11 home runs, while receiving playing time at all three outfield positions.