Tag: Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew Injury: Updates on Yankees 2B’s Concussion and Return

Over the past few weeks, New York Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew has been dealing with concussion-like symptoms. 

Continue for updates.

Drew’s Season Likely Over

Friday, Oct. 2

After being hit in the face with a ground ball during a Sept. 12 game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Drew has been dealing with concussion-like symptoms while trying to stay on the field. According to ESPN’s Wallace Matthews, however, it looks like Drew won’t be playing again in 2015:

Per A.J. Herrmann of the YES Network, Drew underwent an MRI on Tuesday, Sept. 29, as he “had experienced dizziness and other disruptive symptoms” while appearing in seven games since the incident.

This isn’t the first time Drew experienced this kind of injury, as he sustained a vestibular concussion with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. The second baseman spoke with Hermann about it:

It’s like in 2013 in Boston. With the vestibular, when I had it in ’13 it was really severe. You go back on the play when the ball deflected off the glove and hit me in the face. I don’t think much about it and keep playing. It just progressed got worse. It’s that play. There was nothing else in the season.

Drew was batting .201 this season with 17 home runs, but the Yankees now face the possibility of extended postseason play without their starting middle infielder. 

Moving forward, the Yankees may have to rely on rookie Rob Refsnyder, who has appeared in 14 games this season, all at second base, while batting .286 with two home runs. He has already made an impact with the team, though, hitting a home run in its postseason-clinching win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night. 

On a roster with the likes of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez, the loss of Drew won’t necessarily hurt the Yankees in terms of playoff experience. But if Refsnyder is indeed the Yankees’ man at second base moving forward, the 24-year-old is about to experience a trial by fire, as a one-game playoff looms against either the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins or Los Angeles Angels. 


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

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Stephen Drew to Yankees: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Free agency has not been kind to Stephen Drew recently, but the veteran shortstop has found a new home heading into the 2015 season.

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Drew has decided to rejoin the New York Yankees:

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman first reported that a deal was close.

The last two times Drew was a free agent, after 2012 and 2013, he had to settle for one-year deals. He battled injuries during the 2012 season that limited him to 79 games with Arizona and Oakland, so Boston was able to get bargain at $9.5 million in 2013.

However, because Drew posted a solid .253/.333/.443 slash line and played good defense at shortstop, the Red Sox made him a $14.1 million qualifying offer after helping the team win a World Series. He turned it down.

With teams having to forfeit a draft pick to sign Drew, his market never really developed last winter and he didn’t sign with anyone until Boston came calling with a one-year deal for $10 million in May.

The long layoff clearly took a toll on Drew, who had the worst offensive season of his career with a .162/.237/.299 slash line in 85 games with the Red Sox and Yankees.

One interesting wrinkle to Drew’s free agency this time around was provided by his agent Scott Boras (h/t Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal), who said the 31-year-old would be open to playing second base:

Switching positions would help Drew’s versatility, but it would also take away part of what makes him so valuable. FanGraphs indicates that his ability to play shortstop and put up the numbers he did in 2013 made him worth 3.4 wins above replacement (WAR).

Age is catching up to Drew, as are the years of injuries that cost him much of his prime, but he’s not regressed to the point where a position change is a necessity.

If playing second base is what helped get Drew signed, then surely he will be more than happy to do whatever his new team wants after the debacle that happened last year. He could turn out to be a great bargain once again with a full spring training to prepare for the season.


Stats via Baseball-Reference.com.

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3 Missing Pieces the Washington Nationals Could Still Land This Winter

The Washington Nationals have been maddeningly patient this winter, but the team still has a few months to let its fans stew and a short list of pieces that could fill its only visible hole: second base.

Nationals rumors this offseason have been largely dominated by who might be leaving the team. Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Ian Desmond are no closer to learning their fate. 

With this list comes a welcome break from that discussion and a look into who could potentially join the team before it’s all said and done.

Washington has seven solid, everyday position players and a starting rotation that could lose a member and still terrify a batting order. In fact, it’s very possible the Nationals trade Zimmermann to acquire the services of a new second baseman if his contract isn’t extended.

In the Nationals’ three-month search for a middle infielder, new names, like Ben Zobrist, have popped up, while some, like Mookie Betts, have been a constant.

Washington has the option to save its money and trade fodder by choosing not to bring in a new second baseman. In-house product Danny Espinosa would sure like to think so. 

But winter is meant for, among other things, hot stove speculation. And the following three players are the most likely to tempt the Nationals this offseason.

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Updated Chances for Washington Nationals to Sign Top 5 Remaining FA Targets

Most free-agency talk regarding the Washington Nationals this winter will start and end with their search for a second baseman. But MLB‘s offseason isn’t called the “Hot Stove” because of aging middle infielders moving teams. 

It’s true, Washington could probably trot out its roster as is and contend for its second consecutive division title. But, as The Washington Post‘s Thomas Boswell points out, a blockbuster signing is never out of the question with Nats general manager Mike Rizzo. 

Rizzo proved that to be true in 2011 with the acquisition of outfielder Jayson Werth and in 2012 when he brought in starter Gio Gonzalez, two players who have been instrumental in the Nationals’ recent success. 

This time around, it’s free-agent hurler Max Scherzer’s name that is punctuating the discussion of second base options like Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew. 

Washington’s biggest waves in free agency should come once the likes of Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are either dealt or signed to extensions, but the Nationals are highly unlikely to remain quiet all offseason.

Therefore, here are the chances some of Washington’s most notable targets don the red, white and blue next season.

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Xander Bogaerts Is Still the Boston Red Sox’s Shortstop of the Future

Year one of the Xander Bogaerts era at shortstop is not going as planned.

The Boston Red Sox are just 20-26, five games out of first place in the AL East and in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Many of their young players are struggling, many of their rotation staples have crashed and burned, and most of their offseason acquisitions have been busts. The team’s defense and running game—core strengths of the 2013 championship club—have been hard to watch this year.

With that in mind, it’s not hard to see why the Red Sox elected to re-sign Stephen Drew for the rest of the 2014 season this past week. He improves the team for 2014 without mortgaging its future. And while it means that Bogaerts’ tenure at shortstop is coming to a temporary end, it doesn’t have to and shouldn’t mean his days at the position are permanently behind him.

Despite some defensive miscues of his own, Bogaerts has been one of the lone bright spots for the 2014 Red Sox. The 21-year-old is hitting .283/.381/.417 through his first 180 plate appearances. His defense at short has been uninspiring at times, but he’s been far from a train wreck there, either, and he’s shown the ability to make adjustments.

We’re spoiled by the age of Mike Trout, but you can’t ask for much more from a rookie shortstop.

There’s some irony in the fact that it’s Bogaerts—one of the team’s few solid performers—who’s felt the brunt of the Red Sox’s desperate attempts to stop the bleeding. But by bringing Drew back into the fold earlier this week, Boston is simply taking a measured approach to stabilizing a team that has more talent than its sub-.500 record would indicate.

That’s true even if this approach dictates that Bogaerts move 50 feet to his right on defense once more, manning the hot corner for the majority of Boston’s games from here on out.

It’s a decision that disappointed many fans and Bogaerts himself.

“My heart is always at shortstop,” Bogaerts told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Wednesday. “And I was just feeling so good over there. But they made the decision that they have to make.”

Such a reaction from the young Aruban is natural.

But those who believe Bogaerts’ days at shortstop are forever in the past are missing the point of the Drew signing. The Red Sox did not acquire Drew because they don’t think Bogaerts can play shortstop adequately—they acquired Drew because he serves as a relatively cheap option who can improve the team now. And as the first 46 games of the season have shown us, this is very much a team that needs improving.

In reality, the Drew signing is less about Bogaerts than it is about Will Middlebrooks, who’s once again failed to solidify himself as an everyday player on a first-division team. After Middlebrooks hit just .197/.305/.324 through 82 plate appearances between two disabled-list stints, the Red Sox were really left with no choice but to try to make an upgrade with more oomph than Brock Holt.

Many Red Sox fans wanted Garin Cecchini to be summoned to the majors, but his defense clearly isn’t ready for the big leagues, and his power production has been disappointing thus far. Boston’s new favorite prospect, Mookie Betts, lacks the arm strength to play third base and has no professional experience there. And aside from Ryan Roberts, there aren’t any other internal options.

What the Drew signing reflects is that there truly weren’t many external options for a third base upgrade, either. It’s too early for most teams to be in sell mode, but the teams that should already be looking toward 2015 generally lack appealing options at the hot corner. Plus, it makes little sense to cash in trade chips for a third base option when an above-average everyday player such as Drew can be had for just $10 million.

This was the easiest, cheapest and fastest way for the Red Sox to add some life to their team, as Drew will instantly improve their offense and their performance against right-handed pitching: two areas of the club in dire need of improvement.

And let’s put to bed the notion that Drew should play third base so that Bogaerts has shortstop all to himself. You don’t acquire one of the league’s better defenders at a premier position and move him away from his strengths just to avoid hurting the feelings of a prospect.

Plus, even amid all this fuss, there’s a good possibility that Bogaerts sees some more time at shortstop this year. Both Middlebrooks and Drew have dramatic platoon splits, which means we could see WMB at the hot corner and Bogaerts at shortstop against lefties once Middlebrooks recovers.

So Boston’s plan at short is fairly set in stone for 2014, but what about for the future? Many assume or hope that Bogaerts’ move to third base will be permanent, but that doesn’t need to be the case.

It may be unconventional to move Bogaerts from third base to shortstop once again, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Bogaerts has nearly 2,000 professional innings at shortstop, and he’s not going to forget how to play the position just because he’s being asked to make 80 starts at the hot corner this year.

He’s not a finished product at short, but he’s shown us enough this season to make me believe he can be a shortstop for several years moving forward.

The Baltimore Orioles will face a similar scenario with Manny Machado this offseason, as J.J. Hardy is an impending free agent. Other than the argument that defensive shifting leads to offensive struggles—an argument based far more in narrative than anything quantifiable—there’s little reason not to move Bogaerts and Machado to their natural homes.

It’s not a player-development path we’re accustomed to seeing, but Bogaerts and Machado are not normal talents.

Finally, if you project out the Red Sox’s long-term roster, playing Bogaerts at shortstop is really the only way to get all of the team’s premium talent on the field at once. A 2015 lineup with Bogaerts at short, Cecchini at third, Betts in left field and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field is quite plausible, and that’s a quartet that could post a collective OBP of .360 or better.

If you move Bogaerts to third base long term, the picture becomes much more muddled. Cecchini must then move to first base, which is a horrible profile for him, or to left field. If Cecchini moves to left, where do you play Betts? And if you commit to Betts and put him in center, does that mean you’ve already given up on the defensive talents of Bradley?

In essence, keeping Bogaerts at shortstop only blocks Deven Marrero—a decent prospect, but not someone who projects as a first-division starter. Moving Bogaerts to third for 2015 and beyond will block one of Cecchini, Betts or Bradley. One would assume that’s not something Boston wants to do.

Red Sox fans have been clamoring for a true heir apparent to Nomar Garciaparra for a decade now, so it’s understandable to feel some frustration at the thought of Bogaerts being denied the chance to take those reins. But in re-signing Drew for 2014, the Red Sox have significantly improved their team on the field without at all mortgaging their future.

Any time an organization can accomplish both of those goals at once, it must do so.

We may have seen the end of Bogaerts as an everyday shortstop for now, but aside from arguments based in tradition, there’s no reason to think we can’t see him there again in 2015 and beyond.

Xander Bogaerts wants to be a shortstop, and the Red Sox don’t have to deny him that wish on a permanent basis just yet.

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Red Sox’s Stephen Drew Signing Is Beginning of the End of Will Middlebrooks

In a bid to invigorate a slumping offense, the Red Sox signed former shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year contract Tuesday, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal broke.

While that will have to wait at least 10 days as Drew gets back into playing shape, per Red Sox skipper John Farrell via Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe, the reverberations of Drew’s signing are already being felt.

Namely, the end of Will Middlebrooks in Boston.

To understand why signing a shortstop would impact third baseman Middlebrooks‘ tenure in Boston, take a look at incumbent shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Just 21 years old, the Red Sox phenom burst on the scene, helping lead the team to a World Series victory in 2013 while playing third base, despite his natural position being shortstop. While his defense had been questionable to start 2014 and the power suspect, Bogaerts was still doing enough to rank fifth among all American League shortstops in wins above replacement (WAR).

Farrell tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal the solution is Bogaerts shifting to third base, although the right-hander could still see time at shortstop against left-handers. That’s a great solution in the interim while incumbent third baseman Will Middlebrooks is on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger.

But what happens when Middlebrooks comes off the DL?

Simple. He becomes a forgotten man in Boston.

It’s quite a fall from grace for Middlebrooks, who pushed Kevin Youkilis out of town with his strong play in the 2012 season, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham recollects. He ended the year hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs in 75 games. He appeared on the verge of giving Boston a young third baseman with raw power dripping off him.

Unfortunately for Middlebrooks, his sophomore campaign in 2013 saw him struggle to start the season, get demoted to Triple-A and eventually lose his third base job to Bogaerts as the team rolled to their third World Series championship in the past decade.

While Middlebrooks‘ power was still there with 17 homers in 94 games, he just didn’t have the contact skills or plate discipline to attack pitches he could do something with, as evidenced by his .227 average and 5.3 walk percentage.

So far, 2014 has been a terrible season for Middlebrooks. His most recent DL assignment is already his second of the season, and when he’s been in the lineup, he just hasn’t been hitting. He’s made strides in the plate discipline department, walking 8.5 percent of the time. But when you’re hitting .197, there’s only so far that plate discipline will take you.

And now, Drew’s back with the team. It’s difficult to imagine Middlebrooks keeping a spot on the roster when he returns because the team will need its backup infielder to be capable of playing shortstop, as MacPherson notes. Middlebrooks can’t do that and thusly appears to have been rendered expendable, MacPherson adds.

For now, Middlebrooks can be optioned to Triple-A, but there’s another problem on that front. The team has the No. 1 Red Sox prospect, per Bleacher Report’s Ben Carsley, playing third base in Triple-A in Garin Cecchini. That means that the two will have to share time at third base and likely designated hitter. It’s also possible that Middlebrooks sees some time at first base, where he started once last season for Boston.

The Drew signing only matters for 2014, so it’s possible that Middlebrooks is right back in Boston’s plans for 2015. However, that could change on a dime; the team could bring Drew back as a free agent this offseason, permanently installing Bogaerts at third base. The team could also bypass Middlebrooks in favor of Cecchini, so Middlebrooks‘ future in Boston is in serious doubt.

That could be to Boston’s gain, though. Middlebrooks‘ raw power is rare, and there are plenty of teams that would love to get an opportunity at turning him into a middle-of-the-order hitter. Middlebrooks may yet bring value to the team in being an intriguing power chip that Boston could use to fill its remaining holes (finding a center fielder, perhaps?)

Miami Marlins GM Dan Jennings, in particular, has admitted to being a big fan of Middlebrooks, as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Juan C. Rodriguez wrote in the offseason.

It just so happens that the Marlins may eventually have to trade Giancarlo Stanton due to the star right fielder’s increasing price tag, as the Sun-Sentinel explores.

It’s not the first time that Stanton has been linked to the Red Sox, as The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo explored that very possibility in spring training. Dangling Middlebrooks in a deal along with some of Boston’s best pitching prospects could very well bring the slugger to Boston.

Barring a big injury, the 2014 Red Sox will carry on without Will Middlebrooks as a significant part of the team. At age 25, time is running out for Middlebrooks to show he can be a valued member of a lineup.

His next chance to do so may not be in Boston.

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Stephen Drew’s Presence Will Fix Problems on Left Side of Red Sox Infield

More than six months after he rejected a qualifying offer, only to find no takers in free agency, infielder Stephen Drew finally has a home for 2014 after re-signing with the Boston Red Sox.

With the team sitting three games under .500 at 20-23, but still just three games back in a wide-open AL East, this is a move that not only shores up the left side of the infield but could also give the offense a much-needed spark.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Drew will be paid a prorated portion of the original $14.1 million qualifying offer that he turned down at the start of the offseason.

Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe and Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal added some more details on Drew’s return.

A reunion remained a possibility throughout the winter, even after Drew declined the qualifying offer, but when no teams were willing to give up the draft pick compensation it would have cost to sign him, the offseason came and went and Drew was left without a team.

The general consensus throughout the league was that teams would wait until after the June amateur draft before making a move to sign Drew, when it would not longer cost a draft pick to add him, but the Red Sox pounced before that opportunity rolled around.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks landed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right index finger at the end of last week, and while that likely helped force the Red Sox hand here, the left side of the infield was already a mess prior to the injury.

Offensive production has been the big issue at third base, as four different players have combined to post a .576 OPS at the position which ranks 26th in the league.

The aforementioned Middlebrooks has earned the start in 21 of the team’s 43 games, and was hitting just .197/.305/.324 with two home runs and nine RBI over 71 at-bats.

Brock Holt was called up when Middlebrooks landed on the DL, and he’s held his own in limited action this year with a .267/.343/.333 slash line in 30 at-bats, but he’s better suited as a utility infielder than a team’s primary third baseman.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has certainly been up to the challenge offensively, especially considering he is still just 21 years old, currently hitting .269/.369/.379 with 11 extra-base hits in 145 at-bats.

However, he is very much still a work in progress defensively, and while he has committed just four errors, his limited range has made him a below-average shortstop.

When it was first announced that Middlebrooks was going on the disabled list, general manager Ben Cherington balked at the idea of moving Bogaerts away from shortstop.

“We don’t have any reason to believe he can’t play short,” Cherington told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “You’ve got to keep going in the right direction, but he looks, to me anyway, a little more comfortable out there making the routine plays. And that’s all he needs to do.”

However, the addition of Drew has seemingly changed that stance, as it looks like Bogaerts will be headed back to the hot corner where he saw the bulk of his playing time during the playoffs last season. That according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

In Drew, the Red Sox are getting a 31-year-old, proven big-league shortstop who turned in one of his better all-around seasons last year in helping the team win the World Series.

His 3.1 WAR last season, the second-highest mark of his career, ranked fifth among AL shortstops and 10th overall at the position. He proved to be a relative bargain after signing a one-year, $9.5 million deal in the offseason.

He’s not an elite hitter by any means, but behind Jed Lowrie, Jhonny Peralta and J.J. Hardy, he may have been the most productive shortstop in the American League last year.

Moving Bogaerts back to third base for the time being may hurt his development defensively, but considering he was never viewed as an elite defender to begin with, it may not be as big of a deal as some may think.

Cherington also talked to Lauber about how defensive expectations can differ from player to player based on other aspects of their game, including what they bring to the table offensively.

Keep in mind, guys that play short in the big leagues, there’s still a range of defensive ability, and the acceptance of that range is going to be relative to other contributions. Even though Xander hasn’t really caught fire yet, he’s still one of the better offensive performers in the league at that position. So if you’re doing that, you don’t have to be Omar Vizquel in order to be helping.

In other words, if Bogaerts can simply hone his defensive skills as a whole while playing third base while turning himself into a league-average shortstop down the line, his offensive abilities could more than offset any defensive shortcomings he may still have.

Adding Drew makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox.

Giving him $10 million for the remainder of the season is a low-risk move, and pulling the trigger on a deal likely saved them some money had they fallen into a bidding war after the draft.

Time will tell if this is enough to get the Red Sox back on track or just the first in a number of moves they may be forced to make this season, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

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Stephen Drew to Red Sox: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Stephen Drew is heading back to the Boston Red Sox on a prorated one-year deal after sitting out the early portion of the 2014 MLB season while seeking a long-term contract.    

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke the news on Tuesday:

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds Drew will get about $10 million as a part of the prorated qualifying offer from Boston. Signing the qualifying offer also means one won’t be assigned to him next offseason:

Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal had more on how Drew is expected to fit in the Boston infield:

As for when Drew may join the Red Sox, MacPherson and Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe had the latest:

The problem for free agents like Drew—players who rejected qualifying offers from their previous team totaling more than $14.1 million—is that they become attached to compensatory first-round draft pick. That’s a steep price for interested teams to pay on top of the deal itself.

Back in March, agent Scott Boras talked with Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com about the difficult situation the current system places the players in:

The system they’ve been dealt has basically prevented them from free agency. They want to make sure about their next step, whatever that will be. It means either signing a long-term contract now—and we’re still taking offers on those—or a number of other prospects that could occur after the season starts or in June, after the draft happens.

Like any players, they want to play baseball. But they’re also looking at the long-term aspect of their careers. This system has placed them not in free agency, but it’s placed them in a jail.

He could have waited until after next month’s draft to eliminate that factor. Instead, he’s reached an agreement to rejoin the team he helped win a World Series last season.

There were other teams interested, but clubs like the Mets weren’t interested in giving Drew what he received from the Red Sox, via Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal:

Boston is looking for reinforcements after a sluggish start to its title defense. It sports a 20-23 record just beyond the quarter pole of the season. Bringing back Drew should provide a boost.

Drew gets to join a team where he’s already acclimated and doesn’t have to worry about going through a similar situation after the season. He also gets to start working his way back to the majors quicker than waiting until after the draft.

The shortstop posted a .777 OPS in 124 games and played plus defense for the Red Sox last season. The numbers should be pretty similar this time around once he rounds into form after the long layoff.

Exactly how long that will take is unclear. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe noted the lack of a timetable and how his teammates wanted him back in the fold:

Drew alone isn’t enough to completely overcome Boston’s early struggles. He does represent a step in the right direction, though. And with the front office realizing he wasn’t going to net it a first-round pick, it made sense to sign him before losing him for nothing after the draft.

All told, it’s a good situation for all parties involved.


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How Replacing Jose Iglesias with Stephen Drew Would Impact 2014 Tigers

Barring major spring training injuries, the 2014 Detroit Tigers profiled as the team to beat in the American League Central. Yet, if Jose Iglesias—last year’s AL Rookie of the Year candidate—misses significant time, the Tigers actually could be an even bigger lock to reach the postseason.

Of course, that’s assuming that Detroit uses its financial muscle to lure free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew off the street and onto the Comerica Park diamond to replace a now-injured Iglesias. 

The news and accompanying Drew-to-Detroit theory was offered by ESPN and Sirius XM baseball analyst Jim Bowden. Outside of media work, the former Reds and Nationals executive is familiar with front-office thinking around the sport.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick later confirmed these reports, as it looks like the All-Star break could be the earliest Iglesias returns:

With shin issues sidelining the Tigers infielder, manager Brad Ausmus thinks reinforcements could be necessary, per Jason Beck of MLB.com.

“Depending on how long he’s going to be out, we may or may not need two shortstops,” Ausmus said. 

In this case, the connection is easy to make. Detroit is a legitimate World Series candidate, with or without a high-caliber shortstop. Yet, after trading for Iglesias’ dynamic glove, youth and upside last summer, the team was prepared to watch the 24-year-old infielder graduate into a dynamic two-way player in 2014 and beyond.   

With those plans on hold for the majority of 2014, Drew’s free-agent plight can become a blessing in disguise for a veteran team eager to win a championship before the roster ages and decays into a mediocre outfit. 

Drew isn’t a difference-making player, but he represents an upgrade from the young, unproven Iglesias. 

At this point, swapping Drew for Iglesias actually would bring the veteran Tigers closer to the World Series ring that has alluded them over the course of a highly-successful run atop the AL Central.  

During Drew’s eight-year career, the left-handed hitting shortstop has averaged 11 home runs per season and posted a .329 on-base percentage. While those numbers aren’t eye-opening, they are much more prolific than what the light-hitting Iglesias did with the bat during a 294-game minor league apprenticeship. 

Prior to last year’s call up in Boston, Iglesias owned a career minor league OPS of .622. Barring an unexpected uptick in offensive production, Detroit’s future shortstop will rack up value almost solely with his dynamic glove. On the other hand, Drew is more of a complete, all-around shortstop.  

Not only is Drew a clearly better offensive player, Fangraphs’ defensive numbers actually painted him as the better shortstop last season. Despite the highlight plays from the young and athletic Iglesias, Drew had a tremendous defensive season in Boston. 

While the average fan might call Drew a defensive downgrade, the numbers refute that notion. 

Over the long haul, the Tigers would be foolish to contemplate keeping Drew in favor of Iglesias. Over the next four or five years, Detroit could have a cheap, ascending option at shortstop, allowing the front office to spend lavishly on veterans like Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera. 

If a contract discussion with Drew’s agent—Scott Boras—does commence, expect a one-year deal to be as far as Detroit would be willing to go for a shortstop stopgap. Blocking Iglesias’ path and future in Detroit makes little sense.

However, with the Royals and Indians owning the potential to crack the 90-win plateau and challenge an injury-plagued Tigers team in 2014, general manager Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch can’t sit around and wait for Iglesias to heal.

For some teams, 2015 and 2016 represent windows to contention and championship baseball. In Detroit, 30-or-over stars are the norm and potential big-money free-agent cases hang over the fate of this franchise.

From Torii Hunter (38) to Victor Martinez (35) to Joe Nathan (39), the Tigers aren’t built for tomorrow. In fact, aComerica Park, there is no tomorrow.

Max Scherzer—the reigning AL Cy Young winner—is set to hit the open market next winter, perhaps carrying a price tag of $150-plus million. Miguel Cabrera—attempting to win three consecutive AL MVP crowns—could do the same after 2016, with an outside chance of scoring the biggest contract in the history of the sport. 

Through a combination of offense, veteran acumen, underrated defense and desperation for a place to play baseball in 2014, Stephen Drew represents the perfect antidote to what ails the Tigers heading into the final weeks of spring training. 

If Drew simply held the fort and kept Detroit afloat at shortstop, this fit would be obvious. But a stroke of luck has allowed the Tigers the avenue to pursue a shortstop better equipped to help win a title in 2014. 

Iglesias will be the better player over the next handful of years, but Drew is better now.

For the Tigers, that’s all that should matter. 

Agree? Disagree?

Comment, follow me on Twitter or “like” my Facebook page to talk about all things baseball.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Roster projections courtesy of MLB Depth Charts.

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Stephen Drew Rumors: Yankees Offered INF Multi-Year Deal Early in Offseason

Stephen Drew is one of the best free agents still available with spring training just under way, and the New York Yankees are still in need of a third baseman and insurance policy for Derek Jeter at shortstop.

Presumably, this would make them a perfect match for each other. However, not all things go as expected.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees did in fact extend Drew an offer earlier this offseason—believed to be for two or three years. That deal was on the table until they rescinded following a flurry of signings. This was the Yankees’ strategy all along, writes Sherman:

Early in the offseason, the Yankees – with so many holes to fill – used a strategy of making many offers at one time, letting agents know that with each signing, they would re-assess and pull some bids. The Yankees actually made Drew an offer at that time, believed to be for two or three years, when the shortstop was still looking to do considerably better – four or five years.

And, as it happened, the Yankees spent more than they anticipated on players such as Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka and, at some point, rescinded the offer for Drew.

The fact that Drew was holding out for a four- or five-year deal was understandable back in the early-goings of the offseason. But he certainly shouldn’t be holding out for one now. Because, in all likelihood, he won’t be getting it.

Drew would offer the Yankees great flexibility and much needed depth. He’s a stellar fielder at shortstop, and even though he has never played at the hot corner, his skills at short certainly suggest that he could hold his own (at the very least) at a new position.

Then, after this season, Drew could slide right over to his natural position. Derek Jeter’s retirement will leave a gaping hole at the position. While Drew isn’t the long-term fix the Yankees want, he’s a nice stopgap option until they can find one.

In fact, it will make things a whole lot easier for them going into next offseason because they won’t have to worry about searching for a new shortstop. They’ll already have him on the roster.

The case for signing Drew is made even stronger when considering the fact that the Yankees are already over the $189 million payroll goal thanks to the Masahiro Tanaka signing. This is what Hal Steinbrenner told Sherman in an email: 

“No team is without concerns. We will address those concerns as we go, just as we did in several areas last year. … I am comfortable with our payroll as it stands now. Tanaka put us way over the $189 million, but I believe it will prove to be a solid investment. The rest of the pieces we will figure out as we go — just as all other teams do. We have a very good club and we will continue to improve in areas that we see need it; not just in areas that need it on paper. We need to see what actually transpires in those areas and react.”

Having confidence in your roster is a good thing, but failing to see an immediate upgrade when it’s staring you in the eyes is not. On a three-year deal, Drew would be a very, very good signing.

This isn’t the first time Drew failed to sign with the Yankees after the team showed interest in him. Prior to the 2013 season, the Yankees coveted Drew as a third baseman. He ultimately signed with the Boston Red Sox, and the Yankees ultimately ended up with Kevin Youkilis.

There’s still time for a deal to come to fruition with the Yankees, but I wouldn’t expect it to happen, even though it makes a ton of sense. There are currently four teams in on Drew, with two of those teams being known—the Red Sox and the New York Mets, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.

One of the two other mystery teams could be the Yankees. Unfortunately, we probably won’t know until Drew puts pen to paper.


Follow me on Twitter for more about the Yankees: @kennydejohn

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