Despite reports in November that the Red Sox were “moving on” from Stephen Drew, last year’s starter at shortstop remains on the market. So why would a deal to bring Drew back to Boston make sense?

The market that agent Scott Boras may have envisioned for Drew hasn’t developed. The Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta to a multi-year deal. The Yankees seem content to hope Derek Jeter will return to form, with Brendan Ryan an excellent defensive back-up. The qualifying offer that the Red Sox extended, which means any team that signs Drew would lose a draft pick, seems to be hampering interest.

With the market weak, the Sox could swoop in and sign Drew for a reasonable deal of say two years and $24 million. Drew gets a raise and increased money over the $14 million qualifying offer he turned down. The Red Sox get solid production on both offense and defense.

Xander Bogaerts looks to be a superstar in the making offensively, but there are still concerns on whether he can handle the shortstop position. Bringing back Drew would allow Bogaerts to get some starts at shortstop, without the pressure of the starting job.

Photo by Kelly O'Connor, sittingstill.smugmug.com

Photo by Kelly O’Connor, sittingstill.smugmug.com

It may be difficult for Bogaerts to switch between third base and shortstop, but he handled it well at the end of last season. The Red Sox have one of the best defensive coaches in the majors in Brian Butterfield to help Bogaerts make adjustments at both positions.

For his career, Drew hits .235/.291/.390 versus lefthanded pitching, and his numbers were worse than that in 2013. Bogaerts should start at shortstop against lefties, with Will Middlebrooks at third. Against righties, Drew would start at short, and John Farrell could play matchups or the hot hand between Bogaerts and Middlebrooks at third. Having all three players back would give the Sox enviable depth on the left side of the infield.

The other benefit to this depth is that either Drew or Middlebrooks could be used as trade chips if a need arose during the season. Signing Drew to a reasonable deal doesn’t eliminate trading him later. At that point the draft pick compensation would be gone.

A deal with Drew would likely force the Red Sox to deal either Jake Peavy or Ryan Dempster for salary relief. With several teams (Mariners, Angels, Giants, Dodgers just to name a few) looking for pitching depth, the Sox should be able to find a willing trade partner.

The Sox roster looks settled at this point, so they may look for prospects in return for trading off pitching depth. The Sox could expand the deal with prospects like Alex Hassan, Bryce Brentz and Ryan Lavarnway who don’t seem to have a clear spot on the current roster.

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Categories: 2013 Boston Red Sox 2014 Red Sox offseason Alex Hassan Brendan Ryan Bryce Brentz Derek Jeter Jake Peavy Ryan Dempster Ryan Lavarnway Will Middlebrooks Xander Bogaerts

I've been a Red Sox fan since before birth, as my mom was watching the '75 World Series while pregnant with me. 1986 was a major life trauma, but I have always been a fan who believed that "next year" was the year. That faith was finally rewarded in 2004, and again in 2007, coincidentally the last 2 years that I have seen games in Fenway Park. I now follow the Sox from Texas, and love that I will see them in person in Houston this season. Follow Josh on Twitter here

12 Responses to “The Case for Stephen Drew” Subscribe

  1. DaveP1960 December 14, 2013 at 6:48 PM #

    Great article Josh!  Why are so many in favor of letting Drew walk?  I know the draft pick is important…but, the Sox won it all in 2013 because of depth!!  With Drew you have almost the best depth on the left side in all of baseball…without him you might have the worst depth.  No way Xander and Will play 162 games each!  I love your thinking of playing Drew only against R handed pitching…that way Will gets plenty of regular at bats and all three stay fresh the whole season…and we wait a year or two till Garin joins the ranks of home grown talent!

  2. KentHathaway December 14, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

    All this makes no sense at all to me.. First of all we don’t have the money to sign drew.. In order to get the money we would have to trade a starting pitcher.. And for who?.. We have 5 outfielders and we aren’t going to carry six.. We have plenty of pitchers and catchers.. All we really need is a backup shortstop and third baseman, assuming we don’t sign drew.. And if we sign drew for 2 years that means bogaerts won’t be playing shortstop full time for two years and middlebrooks won’t be playing third base full time for 2 years.. Are we never going to give bogaerts a chance to prove he’s a full time major league shortstop… Are we never going to give middlebrooks a chance to prove he’s a full time major league third baseman?.. If there was ever a time to do that this is the time.. We just won a World Series.. I sure hope we don’t screw everything up by signing drew to a 2 year contract with money we don’t have and keep 2 young potentially full time major leaguers from playing the positions they’re best suited for..

  3. DaveP1960 December 14, 2013 at 11:16 PM #

    Even if players don’t get hurt…it is rare to see an infielder play more than 160 games in a year…in 2013
    Iron Man Pedi played in 160…THE FIRST TIME IN HIS CAREER!!  However, look at his splits…Pedi had
    641 AB’s…192 (30%) against Left handed pitchers.  Then look at Pedi’s Rookie of the Year stats from 2007.  He played in 139 games.  My point is…left Will play 50 games for Drew, 40 games for Xander…and maybe 10 for Pedi at 2B…100 games and then some pinch hits in late innings…and he would be the best Super Sub the Sox ever had…Sign Drew for 1 year at 12M…or 2 years for 20 million…and rest comfortably…

  4. Bob Sylvester December 15, 2013 at 8:13 AM #

    Way too much money for a guy who cannot hit.

  5. bencherington December 15, 2013 at 11:51 PM #

    Are you working for Scott Boras?  Only he would devise such a scheme where the Red Sox trade away starting pitching so they can sign Stephen Drew for $12M x 2years to platoon with their best young player who doesn’t have any need to platoon with anyone. .  Meanwhile, Stephen Drew could very easily bat .175 next year if his post season performance is any indication.  He is a nice fielder who doesn’t hit – that’s a $5M guy.

  6. JakeKeene December 17, 2013 at 12:45 AM #

    I dont know why everyone is sold so high on Middlebrooks. He had a decent year in 2012, but this year, he didn’t hit and his defense wasn’t exactly gold glove material. Sign back Drew to 2 years (he slumped in the playoffs but career numbers show he is about a .250 hitter) and let Bogaerts develop at 3rd. He gets plenty of AB’s, along with the experience of playing every day. Worst case, he stays at 3rd for his career. Sox need depth and defense and Drew gives them this without a doubt.

  7. Bob Sylvester December 17, 2013 at 7:39 AM #

    JakeKeene He is fragile like this brother.  Alas we traded away the shortstop we could have used – a Golden Glover at that.  I am not sold on Middlebrooks either and would look for the top prospect at 3rd we have in the minors as the likely answer.

    God bless, Jack – Go Sox!!!

    B.

  8. Josh Cookson December 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM #

    @bencherington Please stop saying Drew can’t hit. He’s a .275 hitter in his career against righties. 50 at bats in the postseason doesn’t change that. He’s an above average shortstop both offensively and defensively.

    Bogaerts will be 21 in 2014 and has played 8 games at shortstop in the major leagues. You’re that convinced that he’s ready at one of the toughest defensive positions when the Sox have no Plan B right now? I love Bogaerts, but it’s a lot to ask.

  9. Josh Cookson December 17, 2013 at 4:20 PM #

    KentHathaway Drew stays until Bogaerts and Middlebrooks show they’re ready to be the every day guys. Signing him for two years doesn’t mean he stays for two years.

    To me, there’s more value in spending 12-14 million on an above average shortstop then spending that same money on Ryan Dempster to be the 6th starter/long man. There are 5 guys in Triple A who can fill that role… the same can’t be said for shortstop.

    Yes, they just won the World Series… with Drew at shortstop and Bogaerts at third.

  10. KentHathaway December 17, 2013 at 4:43 PM #

    Josh.. You’re using something I think is called circular reasoning.. You say “drew stays until bogaerts and middlebrooks show they’re ready to be the every day guys.” The point is they can’t show that as long as drew stays. We don’t really need drew and we don”t really have the money to sign him.. What we need is a backup for bogaerts and middlebrooks until they either prove they are ready to be full time players or they’re not.. We didn’t win the World Series because of drew at short and bogaerts at third.. We probably could have won it with you at short and me at third.. :-) my point is we kinda have a free ride in 2014 because we won thw World Series and don’t have to sign everyone and their brother like the Yankees do, etc.. And if we sign drew we then have to trade a starter rather than doing that because we want to.. That’s a big difference.. You go from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.. And there’s no one we really need to trade a starting pitcher for.. We have 5 outfielders, plenty of pitchers and catchers and a lot of good young players in the minors.. Kent.

  11. Gerry December 21, 2013 at 2:19 PM #

    IMO the Sox will be successfully defending their championship with WMB, XB, Bean or with XB, Dirt, WMB or Bean. My concerns are that of many others: If XB is the Tulo-like SS of the next 5-10-15 years, let him play SS now. He is or he isn’t.
    Drew likely means the trade of Will. Why are WMB’s wrist and back injuries and his otherwise hugely successful numbers and #1 prospect status taken into account when discussing his ability to play? And that if Drew is signed, we lose perhaps one of the best 3B power hitters and defenders in the game at age 25. We forget that Drew came on a one year Boras pillow contract specifically so he can return to the big money/multi-year stage. He wants to cash in and someone
    will pay. When they do, the Sox get a third high pick in a deep draft and about $1.5M extra to maneuver within that draft
    Draft

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    […] It’s looking more and more like the Red Sox should bring back Stephen Drew. (Josh Cookson; Fire Brand of the AL) […]