Today the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million dollar deal, pending a physical. Drew, the brother of former Red Sox player J.D. Drew, was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round (pick #15) in the 2004 draft. Having hit well at high-A Lancaster (but let’s be honest, anyone can hit there) in 2005, the Diamondbacks put him on the fast track. Drew finished 2005 in AA Tennessee, where he hit .218/.301/.386 in 113 at bats.
In 2006, the DBacks promoted Drew to AAA Tuscon, where he hit .284/.340/.462, .351 wOBA, 108 wRC+ with 13 homers. Drew gained a promotion to the bigs later that season, hitting .316/.357/.517/.366 wOBA/114 wRC+. After a somewhat personally disappointing 2007 for the playoff Diamondbacks, Drew had a career year in 2008, hitting .291/.333/.502/.355 wOBA/109 wRC+ with 21 homers and 91 runs scored. After 2008, however, Drew’s seasons have been slightly below average; Drew’s 2009 OPS+ was 92, he rebounded to a 113 OPS+ in 2010, then regressed to 93 in 2011.
However, on July 21, 2011, everything changed for Drew. On a play at the plate against the Brewers, Drew suffered a horrific ankle break, where his foot twisted 180 degrees from normal. There was some controversy on the length of his recovery but Drew eventually returned to the Diamondbacks on June 27, 2012. However, Drew only hit .193/.290/.311/.269 wOBA/59 wRC+. The DBacks traded Drew in a deadline deal to the Oakland Athletics, where he hit .250/.326/.382/.310 wOBA/97 wRC+ for the playoff-bound A’s. Bill James projects Drew to hit .252/.325/.411/.320 wOBA in 2013.
Drew’s defensive metrics have been all over the place. His Fielding Runs Above Average (based on UZR) have ranged from a terrible -15.5 in 2007 to a pretty good 8.7 in 2010. Drew’s Range Factor per 9 innings have ranged from a high of 4.36 in 2007 to a post-injury low of 3.74 in 2012.
The signing of Stephen Drew means that the Red Sox do not believe that either Jose Iglesias or Xander Bogaerts are ready to man the shortstop position at the major-league level. It remains to be seen whether Iglesias starts the season in Boston as Drew’s backup or in Pawtucket.