J.D. Drew Rumors

Quick Hits: Drew, Bundy, Machado, Blue Jays

Here are some links from around the league as Wednesday turns into Thursday…

  • Scott Boras told reporters (including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford) that a "couple of teams" have inquired about J.D. Drew during the season. "I've got no indication from him a desire to return," said Boras of the outfielder, who has been at home. "But then again I haven't addressed the issue with him, if he's done anything formally."
  • Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com reports (on Twitter) that clubs keep asking the Orioles for top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado in trade talks. Needless to say, those two are as close to untouchable as it gets.
  • The Blue Jays promoted Andrew Tinnish to assistant GM, reports Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun (on Twitter). Tinnish had been the team's amateur scouting director.

Red Sox Did Not Inquire About J.D. Drew

The Red Sox did not inquire about J.D. Drew's availability following Jacoby Ellsbury's injury, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford (on Twitter). Ellsbury subluxed his right shoulder last Friday and there is no timetable for his return. Carl Crawford is also on the disabled list.

Drew, 36, was reportedly "very likely" to retire during the offseason, though no official announcement has been made. He spent the last five seasons in Boston, hitting .264/.370/.455 overall but missing lots of time due to injury. Last year he hit just .222/.315/.302 in 286 plate appearances. The Red Sox are actively exploring the outfield market, but right now they're relying on Cody Ross, Darnell McDonald, Jason Repko, and Ryan Sweeney.

Quick Hits: Axford, Dodgers, Varitek, Drew, Rangers

On this date in 1993, the Expos signed Vladimir Guerrero as an 18-year-old amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He reached the big leagues three years later and went on to hit .318/.379/.553 during his Hall of Fame caliber career. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • John Axford told Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel that he'll have to sign a one-year contract for now, but would very much like to get a multi-year extension done with the Brewers. Ben Nicholson-Smith looked at Axford's extension case earlier today.
  • Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson told Anthony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles that the team is working to sign one player from their tryout camp (all Twitter links). Doug Davis and Minnesota Vikings free safety Jarrad Page were among those at the open tryout today. The player will report to minor league camp once signed.
  • Scott Boras told reporters (including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford) that he "really didn't let" other teams make offers to the now-retired Jason Varitek. "We didn't want to mislead anybody that he wasn't going to play for them," Boras said of the long-time Red Sox.
  • "He's just home," said Boras to reporters (including Bradford) about J.D. Drew. "He hasn't announced anything, but he's there. He hasn't made any decisions. He's home." We heard Drew was "very likely" to retire back in January.
  • The Rangers payroll is approaching $127MM, but president and CEO Nolan Ryan told Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News that they won't be forced to dump any salary before the season.
  • Omar Vizquel understands that he has to win a spot on the Blue Jays roster in Spring Training, but he told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that he doesn't understand why more older players don't do try to do the same. "It's weird to see all these guys retire, and I'm still on the field," said the 44-year-old.

J.D. Drew Very Likely To Retire

Free agent outfielder J.D. Drew is "very likely" to retire, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter). It's been a quiet offseason for the Scott Boras client.

Drew, 36, hit .222/.315/.302 in 286 plate appearances with the Red Sox last season. If he does retire, he'll do so as a .278/.384/.489 career hitter with 242 homers during his 14 years. He famously did not sign with the Phillies as the second overall pick in 1997, instead spending a year in an independent league before the Cardinals made him the fifth overall pick in 1998. Drew also spent time with the Braves and Dodgers.

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Cafardo On Rays, Lee, Fielder, Cubs, Eckstein

At Thursday's Baseball Writers Dinner, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he felt good about his rotation heading into Spring Training, but admitted that the Yankees and Rays have fewer question marks in their respective rotations, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  The GM might now have the payroll flexibility to bolster the starting five after sending Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for Clayton Mortensen last night.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • After taking care of their first base vacancy, the Rays can now accelerate a deal for B.J. Upton to get a shortstop.  Currently, Sean Rodriguez is slated to play there over Reid Brignac.  Tampa Bay could also use an everyday catcher, with Jose Molina currently slated to start.
  • Astros first baseman Carlos Lee has to approve any deal because of his 10-5 rights, and hasn't been receptive to waiving those privileges in the past.  The veteran is scheduled to make $18.5MM, but the club has said that they are willing to eat half of it to get a deal done.  Cafardo thinks they'd cover even more of it to appeal to a team like the Tigers.
  • One AL East GM thinks that the Prince Fielder sweepstakes will come down to the Rangers and Nationals, with the Brewers and Cubs taking a shot if he settles for a one-year deal and elects to become a free agent again.
  • There has been talk that Victor Martinez’s injury could open the door for the Cubs to unload overpriced players such as Alfonso Soriano or Marlon Byrd, but Cafardo isn't buying it.
  • David Eckstein, who didn't play last season, has decided to retire even though there were teams willing to bring him into camp.  The 37-year-old hit .280/.345/.355 in his ten-year Major League career.
  • If the Orioles, Tigers, or Yankees don’t come through soon, Johnny Damon could be in a real bind as far as finding a job.  Cafardo opines that he would be a great fit in Detroit to replace the veteran leadership of Martinez.
  • With DH openings few and far between, Cafardo also wonders about the futures of Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui, Magglio Ordonez, Raul Ibanez, and J.D. Drew.
  • Cherington says that he won't consider bringing Drew back to Boston.  Recently, an National League GM told Cafardo that he believes that Drew can be a great bat off of the bench for an NL team.
  • Larry Lucchino won’t say whether he has re-upped with the Red Sox on a long-term deal, but Cafardo takes that as a yes.

Cafardo’s Latest: Red Sox, Jurrjens, Drew, Ross

The Red Sox are reluctant to exceed the $178MM luxury tax threshold on player salaries, writes Nick Cafardo in his latest column for the Boston Globe. If the Sox decide to remain under the threshold, it will limit the team's spending flexibility for outfield and pitching help, effectively eliminating top-tier free agents. Cafardo discusses the club's options and touches on a few other topics in his piece. Here are a few highlights:

  • The Braves have some concern about Tommy Hanson's shoulder, meaning they may end up holding on to Jair Jurrjens rather than dealing him.
  • An NL GM on J.D. Drew: "I know he had a wasted year, but he can still hit, he can still defend, and for a National League team, he'd be a heck of a bat off the bench. If he wants that role. He could easily be a starter somewhere. He's not that old, and sometimes that fresh start energizes a player."
  • Cafardo names the Rays, Braves, Giants, Rangers, and Cardinals as possible fits for Drew.
  • A source tells Cafardo that Cody Ross is seeking a three-year deal worth about $6MM annually. Sounds like an awfully tall order for Ross' representatives at SFX.
  • Mike Brown, former pitching coach for the Nippon Ham Fighters and current scout for the Diamondbacks, is confident that Yu Darvish will be very successful in the Majors: "He's the real deal. He's got great stuff, a great presence on the mound. He would definitely be a top pitcher here if he comes out."

Boras On Fielder, Rays, Dodgers, Damon

Agent Scott Boras held court in Dallas tonight, providing updates on his many free agent clients and entertaining reporters with quips along the way. Here are the details:

  • Boras made it clear that Prince Fielder has drawn lots of interest this offseason. The agent explained that Fielder compares favorably to all-time greats such as Jimmie Foxx and suggested teams will look to lock Fielder up for as long as possible if they recognize his potential as someone who can produce at the plate for the better part of a decade while boosting TV ratings and attendance (Boras' arguments, not mine). He played down concerns about Fielder's body, suggested he's just entering his prime and argued that comparable free agent power hitters won't be available any time soon.
  • Fielder doesn't have any geographical preference as to where he signs, tweets Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Boras quipped that the distance from home plate to the outfield fence is the only geography concerning Fielder. For more on Fielder, click here.
  • Generally speaking, Boras explained that Seattle and Milwaukee are desirable places to play because they have the potential to draw substantial crowds. He also said "the city [of Los Angeles] is waiting for the return of the Dodgers" and praised the Dodgers as a storied franchise in American sports.
  • Johnny Damon played "very well" in 2011, according to Boras. He joked that 38-year-old is in line for a five-year deal, though a one-year contract is probable in reality. Boras half-jokingly suggested the Rays "have lots of money" despite their perennially low payrolls. 
  • Carlos Pena will likely have multiyear offers, Boras said.
  • Asked if Kyle Lohse could waive his no-trade clause, Boras replied that he thinks Lohse is happy in St. Louis, tweets B.J. Rains of Fox Sports Midwest.
  • The market for Ivan Rodriguez is narrowing, tweets Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. The Nationals aren't in on Pudge, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • The Nats have some interest in bringing back Rick Ankieltweets Comak.
  • Boras expects Daisuke Matsuzaka to be healthy and return "sometime this summer," tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • J.D. Drew is undecided on whether he'll play in 2012. It would have to be the right situation.
  • Andruw Jones would've liked more playing time in 2011, but understands he won't be a full-time player, tweets MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. A deal with the Yankees is likely in the coming weeks, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
  • The Braves haven't progressed toward an extension for Michael Bourn, tweets Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.

MLBTR's Luke Adams co-wrote this post.

Boras Talks Drew, Fielder, Andruw, Madson, Pelfrey

Agent Scott Boras says J.D. Drew has not retired and will play in 2012 if the right opportunity emerges, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Here are more details from Boras’ conversation with reporters (most links go to Twitter)…

  • Boras said Prince Fielder will appeal to teams looking to win now and to those that are more than a year away from contending, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy“I do think there are a lot of teams that … look long-term with a younger player that may not be in the market for a player that is four or five years older," Boras said, comparing Fielder to Albert Pujols.
  • Boras told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Fielder is an "amazing athlete" who's just stepping into his prime. "This guy can fly," he said. "He's like Warren Sapp. That man was an athlete. People said he had this square body or he wasn't big enough or whatever, but he was still an All-Pro."
  • Boras and the Yankees have discussed the possibility of a new deal for Andruw Jones, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. The Yankees are in the market for a fourth outfielder and Jones, who hit .247/.356/.495 for New York in 2011, would be a fit, especially because he bats from the right side.
  • Boras has not spoken with the Red Sox about free agent closer Ryan Madson, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
  • Boras explained that there will be strong interest in Carlos Beltran, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. "It's hard to get those players to free-agency and the ones who get there there's a real demand for them," he said.
  • Boras will meet with Indians to discuss possible free agent fits, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hoynes points out that Carlos Pena is a possible fit for the Indians at first base. Matt LaPorta is an option for the 2012 Indians, but he doesn’t appear to have any guarantees.
  • Boras will also speak to the Cubs, possibly about Pena, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.
  • Boras “fully expects” the Mets to tender Mike Pelfrey a contract, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

Red Sox Notes: Drew, Reddick, Francoeur

The Red Sox, who are already 25 games above .500, open a series against the Royals tonight. Here's the latest from Boston as Theo Epstein & Co. consider possible moves…

  • The Red Sox have tons of feelers out and scouts are watching their Double-A Portland club intently, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
  • J.D. Drew hit the disabled list with a left shoulder impingement today, but Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald hears that the injury won't make Red Sox more aggressive in talks for outfield help. Josh Reddick's emergence means the Red Sox have an in-house alternative to Drew.
  • Jeff Francoeur told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that it would be "neat" to be traded to Boston, though he's happy in Kansas City. "My dad took a train with my grandpa for tons of games to Fenway," Francoeur said. "I was in high school and had a Boston Red Sox credit card." 

Red Sox Hope For More Production In Right

No team in baseball has scored as often as the Red Sox (409 runs), but there’s room for improvement, even in Boston. Red Sox right fielders have the worst average (.220), on-base percentage (.304) and slugging percentage (.326) of any American League team. And as one Red Sox source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com, the status quo isn’t good enough. 

“We need more out of that position,” Speier’s source said.

J.D. Drew hasn’t been as effective as expected against right-handers and Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald haven’t produced as expected against left-handers, especially recently. Speier says it wouldn’t be surprising if Cameron or McDonald gets cut when Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list.

The Red Sox would prefer for their existing options – Drew, Cameron, McDonald and Josh Reddick – to play so well that no reinforcements seem necessary. But Boston’s interest in right-handed outfielders who can contribute off of the bench appears to be growing, according to Speier.