Yankees pitcher Albert Abreu is facing do-or-die 2021 season

Albert Abreu #87 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Albert Abreu #87 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The time is now for Yankees pitcher Albert Abreu.

With so much of the offseason chatter surrounding DJ LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, the starting rotation, potential blockbuster trades, among other topics, for the New York Yankees, of course you’re not thinking about pitcher Albert Abreu.

Abreu faces a career-defining 2021, at least with the Yankees. Ever since coming over in the trade with the Astros that sent catcher Brian McCann to Houston, Abreu has been underwhelming. He’s been with the organization since 2017 (as a 21-year-old) and didn’t make his debut until 2020. He’s also never pitched above Double-A.

But that doesn’t matter when next season begins because Abreu will either be with the Yankees or another team. New York cannot keep sending him down to the minor leagues (or alternate site, if that’s what continues in 2021).

"“Long a top Yankees prospect, Albert Abreu is out of big-league options. That status kept Luis Cessa around in 2020 and he pitched well out of the bullpen. Easy to see a way the Yankees try to look at Abreu, a career starter in the minor leagues, as a gas-throwing swingman. Especially considering Abreu’s long-running control issues,” Brendan Kuty of NJ.com wrote."

No more options for Abreu, which means it’s either sink or swim on the MLB roster. The unfortunate part? He’s probably not going to be utilized as a starter even though that’s what he’s been for a majority of his professional career. He’s made just 20 relief appearances out of the 124 games he’s pitched.

The good news? There’s very much a spot for Abreu in the bullpen. Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder are gone. Jonathan Loaisiga is falling out of favor. The Yankees need someone else to step up to fortify the bridge to Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman.

The problem? Abreu’s always been more flash than production. He throws hard, but he can’t locate. He’s largely been unable to hone his off-speed stuff too, given the fact he’s largely languished in the minor leagues for four years now.

But there will be no minors in 2021 for the right-hander. It’s carve out a role in the Yankees bullpen or get waived. It’s a harsh reality, but that’s what the 25-year-old is facing in a few short months. Perhaps the sense of urgency can help him move forward and unleash his potential.

That would either help the Yankees strengthen their pitching staff or have another asset to trade at the deadline.