Stephen Drew stood as the top available shortstop this winter, despite missing the bulk of the last two seasons with a severe ankle injury. Some speculated that it would take a multi-year deal to sign the 29-year-old, but the Red Sox wound up inking up Drew to a one-year pact worth $9.5MM and $500K in performance bonuses. Drew says that there were potential opportunities for multi-year deals and contracts with player options, but he ultimately felt that the Red Sox were the best fit for him.
"There were some teams out there that me and [agent Scott Boras] said could have been thinking that. I think at the end of the day we said that there were teams that needed a shortstop and we looked at who is playing second and the rest of the field and we looked at what would benefit me. I think Boston was the best fit for us," the shortstop said on a conference call with reporters.
Drew explained that part of Boston's appeal was the chance to form a strong middle infield with second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The shortstop believes that despite all of the time missed in 2011 and '12, his defensive play in Oakland was some of the best of his career. Drew will celebrate the new year on January 1st by taking ground balls and ramping up his prep for 2013.
One might think that the shortstop's opinion of Boston would be shaped by his brother J.D. Drew, who played for the Red Sox from 2007-2011. However, the younger Drew said that his conversations with the former outfielder only center on baseball "here and there". Drew is aware of the difference between the markets in Arizona and Oakland versus Boston, but isn't overly concerned with having to adjust.
Boras believes that Drew's setbacks over the last couple of years have led to fans forgetting exactly how talented he is. In the three years prior to his injury-shortened '11 campaign, Drew posted a .277/.335/.465 batting line and provided the kind of power that isn't easy to find at his position.
"The need for shortstops is so great. And then when you add in Stephen’s swing plane and his metrics, where he hits the ball, in Fenway, we really felt like that was kind of the match made for what strengths Stephen has as a hitter and what the ballpark in Boston provides," the agent explained.
Ultimately, Drew's one-year deal is an opportunity to prove that he can once again produce at a high level while staying on the field. While the Red Sox are still working on finalizing Mike Napoli's deal amongst questions about his hip, Drew says that he is as healthy as ever. If Drew can show that his right ankle is back to 100%, Boras knows that he will boost his value even further.
"I think after this year, everyone is going to think a lot differently about what kind of player Stephen is and the impact he can have on a division-contending team."