Stephen Drew Rumors

New York Notes: Wright, Lindgren, Drew, Murphy

Mets third baseman David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports. In a second tweet, Rosenthal notes that the condition can be treated via epidural or a “minimally invasive surgery.” Yesterday, he began his latest rehab attempt from hamstring and back issues, but he has already been shut down with the new diagnosis. Needless to say, the timetable for Wright’s return is now completely uncertain while he decides on treatment options. The franchise third baseman is owed $20MM in 2015 and $87MM through 2020.

  • The Yankees will promote left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He’ll take the place of Branden Pinder who threw three innings in today’s blow out loss. Lindgren was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft. He’s spent the 2015 campaign at Triple-A. In 22 innings, he has allowed a 1.23 ERA, 11.86 K/9, and 4.09 BB/9 in 22 innings. Lindgren is the third high profile pitcher from the most recent draft class to reach the majors. Brandon Finnegan and Carlos Rodon have also received their first taste of the big leagues, although Finnegan is currently in Triple-A.
  • Stephen Drew and Daniel Murphy are among twelve players who have hurt their free agent stock, writes Sherman for the New York Post. Drew has shown little evidence of rebounding from a horrific 2014 season. His batting average remains below the Mendoza line, and he’s in danger of losing his job to Robert Refsnyder. Meanwhile, Murphy is off to a slow start at the plate. Per Sherman, his hitting has always allowed the Mets to look past his mediocre defense. In the case of Murphy, a little patience may be in order. His contact rates and power remain within career norms. In fact, his current strikeout rate is a career best. An unusually low .252 BABIP is the obvious culprit for the poor production. Sherman also discusses 10 other non-New Yorkers who may be losing money.
  • The Mets will utilize a six-man rotation for at least one week, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Dillon Gee is set to return to action tomorrow afternoon. The rotation will remain in the normal order. Matt Harvey, who was spanked by the Pirates this afternoon, will appear next Saturday with two extra days of rest. While trade speculation will continue to surround Gee, he still has value to the Mets as a means to limit the workloads of Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom.

Quick Hits: Cole, Drew, Vogt

In case you’ve not noticed, Pirates righty Gerrit Cole has delivered on his promise — and then some — thus far in 2015. As things stand, he owns a 2.32 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 and a healthy 55.3% groundball rate. The 2011 first overall pick has, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, justified Pittsburgh’s decision to take him over a host of other strong options (though Anthony Rendon, Jose Fernandez, and Sonny Gray — among others — could also ultimately stake a claim as the best player from that productive draft). Jayson Stark of ESPN.com says that Cole represents the complete package on the hill, and may have upside that is yet to be fully tapped.

Here are some more stray links from around the game:

  • The Yankees plan to keep utilizing Stephen Drew despite his lackluster batting line, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Skipper Joe Girardi, who has deployed Drew around the infield, says that the quality of his at-bats have not yet shown up in terms of results but that a turnaround could be forthcoming. Lacking clear solutions up the middle, it makes good sense for the Yankees to give Drew every chance to succeed. If nothing else, as Feinsand notes, his quality defense makes him a useful utility player even if New York were to make an addition at the trade deadline.
  • ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link) looks at the Athletics and where things could be headed for the club this summer. Despite the rough start, there are signs of promise, and the division could still be within reach. If a return to competitiveness is not forthcoming, however, Olney suggests that the club could market not only Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, but also catcher Stephen Vogt. While Vogt is still going to be cheap for some time, that same fact — combined with positional scarcity and his outstanding production thus far (third in the league in both wRC+ and fWAR) — could make him quite an interesting trade piece. While Olney makes clear that he is just speculating, it is certainly an intriguing idea, and one that we can’t put past the always-creative Billy Beane.

AL East Notes: Pirela, Travis, Paredes, Red Sox

The Yankees are set to bring up second base prospect Jose Pirela, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how the playing time will be sorted in the middle infield, but the club has received scant production to date at both second base (Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit) and shortstop (Didi Gregorius). With the Yankees otherwise looking good atop the AL East, it is fair to wonder whether Pirela and/or Rob Refsnyder will get extended early looks to help inform the club’s decisionmaking over the summer.

Here’s more from the competitive AL East:

  • Meanwhile, things are headed in quite a different direction at the keystone for the Blue Jays, who have received stunning production from offseason acquisition Devon Travis. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca explains, while Travis’s incredible start is obviously not sustainable, he has exhibited a series of skills — hitting the ball long and hard, and showing quality strike zone control — that bode well for his future. While Toronto obviously hoped he could become a long-term answer when it dealt for him, the club now has good reason to believe that he will be installed at second for years to come.
  • Another infielder off to a surprisingly hot start is Jimmy Paredes of the Orioles. As Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes, the 26-year-old has traveled a long road through five organizations to get to this point. Still a work in progress in the field, Paredes has shown real promise at the plate this year. With Jonathan Schoop still working back from injury and Manny Machado having missed significant time in each of the last two seasons, Paredes could be an important piece for Baltimore if the team hopes to stay in the playoff hunt.
  • Things have gotten bad in a hurry for the Red Sox, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford opines that losing Hanley Ramirez for any significant stretch would be a huge blow for Boston; while his injury does not appear to be as serious as it looked, any loss of production could be problematic in a tough division. Of course, the club has plenty of options in the outfield, and the bigger concern remains a rotation that has struggled badly. Though it is reasonable to hope that the results will begin to better match the underlying peripherals, Bradford says that the team does not have any obviously promising internal candidates to add quality innings in the near term.


Quick Hits: Angels, Price, Brewers, Drew

In the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s departure from the Angels, his five-year, $125MM deal with the club may be the worst free agent signing of all time, ESPN’s Jayson Stark opines.  The Hamilton deal tops Stark’s list of the five worst signings ever, which also includes another ongoing contract in Melvin Upton Jr.‘s five-year, $72.25MM pact with the Braves.  Two other current deals receive dishonorable mentions: Shin-Soo Choo‘s seven year, $130MM contract with the Rangers is cited as a “disaster in the making,” while Alex Rodriguez‘s ten-year, $275MM contract with the Yankees is a “category unto himself.”

Here’s more from around the baseball world…

  • The Angels seem likely to make a trade for left field help, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, though such a move isn’t likely to happen for at least another month.  Acquiring a new left fielder to replace Hamilton would allow the Halos to shift Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron into a platoon at DH.
  • David Price said he hasn’t “heard anything” new about extension talks with the Tigers, the southpaw told Mlive.com’s Chris Iott (Twitter link).
  • Teams are looking at the Brewers as the first team who could start selling, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  One executive speculated that Milwaukee could make everyone available except Jonathan Lucroy and Jimmy Nelson.  Sherman thinks Carlos Gomez could be a big trade chip if the Brewers decide on a full rebuild and don’t think they can sign Gomez to an extension.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman is satisfied with Stephen Drew and isn’t looking for any internal replacements at second base, he tells ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand.  Drew is hitting .177/.274/.419 with four homers in 74 plate appearances and has posted below-average defensive numbers as a second baseman.  Despite Drew’s numbers, Jose Pirela‘s concussion recovery and Rob Refsnyder‘s defensive issues have left the Yankees without a ready replacement for the veteran.
  • In his latest Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Jim Bowden gives his opinion on how five struggling teams can solve their problems.  One suggested fix, for the Nationals, is simply to do nothing; Bowden thinks the front office should wait until everyone is healthy before deciding if changes need to be made.

AL East Notes: Navarro, Wieters, Matusz, Yankees

Here’s the latest from around the AL East…

  • The Diamondbacks still have interest in Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro, as Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair writes that the Snakes “have been trailing…Navarro for the better part of a week.”  Navarro himself recently said that he believed Arizona and Detroit were interested in acquiring his services, and both teams have room to upgrade behind the plate.
  • Matt Wieters will begin the season on the DL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) that the lack of precedent for catchers recovering from the surgery is why the O’s pursued several backups this offseason.  “I think there’s a lot of unknown there. We’re hoping for the best,” Showalter said.  “They’ll have something to base the future on when the start trying to analyze this, because he’s been a model blueprint for rehab as far as what he’s done. We followed it to the letter of the law. Matt, if anything, has been above and beyond.”
  • Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, most notably in connection to the MetsMASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports that New York indeed still has interest in Matusz but would need the O’s to cover part of Matusz’s $3.2MM salary.  Previous reports have suggested the Orioles would be add some cash to make a deal happen, so there could be a bit if the two sides can make the numbers line up.
  • Scouts haven’t been impressed with either Carlos Beltran or Stephen Drew this spring, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports.  Neither of the two Yankees veterans are hitting well, and there is also question about Beltran’s ability to play right field.  This is a particularly important Spring Training for Drew, as his loose hold on the second base job could be broken entirely given the presence of Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela.

Rosenthal On Rockies, Drew, Padres, Braves

Other teams asked Major League Baseball about the Rockies‘ decision to add John Axford to their roster so early in the spring, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Axford signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies in early February, but the team added him to its roster March 1, effectively turning a minor-league deal into a big-league one. To clear space on their roster, they moved Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day DL, a move they were not allowed to make in the offseason. The idea is that the team might have effectively agreed to a big-league deal with Axford but signed him to a minor-league deal purely to manipulate its roster. The Rockies, of course, could plausibly claim that they were impressed by Axford early in the spring and wanted to roster him so that he couldn’t exercise his out clause later in the month, perhaps making the decision early as a vote of confidence in Axford and in their team. Here are more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest notes column.

  • Scouts have doubts about Stephen Drew as the Yankees‘ second baseman, Rosenthal writes. The Yankees signed Drew for $5MM in the offseason with the idea that he would provide veteran stability in the middle infield, given that they’re going with youngster Didi Gregorius at shortstop and their backup plans at second, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder, are also inexperienced.
  • The Padres are reportedly among the teams most interested in Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but Rosenthal reports that they are unlikely to pay more than the $70MM Olivera expects to get.
  • Teams interested in starting pitching depth could turn to the Braves‘ collection of minor-league signees, including Eric Stults, Chien-Ming Wang and Wandy Rodriguez. Stults can opt out of his deal April 3, while Wang can opt out July 1. Whether Rodriguez has an out, and when, is unknown.

Yankees To Sign Stephen Drew

JAN. 7: Drew will receive $500K for reaching each of 450, 500 and 550 plate appearances, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link).

JAN. 6, 10:02pm: David Lennon of Newsday tweets that Drew’s base salary is exactly $5MM. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports adds (via Twitter) that Drew’s contract contains up to $1.5MM worth of incentives, meaning he can max out at a total of $6.5MM on his one-year deal. The deal is still pending a physical.

8:42pm: The Yankees and Stephen Drew are on the verge of completing a one-year agreement that will pay Drew roughly $5MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Drew, a client of Scott Boras, will be able to boost the value of the deal to about $6-7MM via performance incentives, according to Heyman.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

The team has already acquired the slick-fielding Didi Gregorius to handle shortstop in the long-term, so Drew’s role will be to play second base, at least against right-handed pitchers, tweets the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Drew can also provide the Yankees with some insurance in the event that Gregorius is not yet ready to handle shortstop for the long haul.

The addition of Drew likely means that prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela will no longer be competing for the second base job in Spring Training, as many had assumed would be the case. However, since both are right-handed hitters, either could conceivably end up as part of a second base platoon with Drew. Refsnyder, in particular, crushed left-handed pitching last season, batting .385/.447/.587 in 161 plate appearances. Of course, Pirela’s .319/.382/.493 line versus southpaws from 2014 is also highly impressive.

Drew will fill the role that many expected Martin Prado to fill prior to his trade to the Marlins. That swap netted the Yankees hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi. They’ll now be relying on the same starting outfield alignment that they sent out in 2014, but with Chase Headley, Gregorius and Drew joining Mark Teixeira in the infield and a returning Alex Rodriguez seeing quite a bit of time at DH.

Drew is coming off a dreadful season at the plate in which he batted just .162/.237/.299 with seven homers in 300 plate appearances between the Red Sox and Yankees. Of course, Drew also sat out for the first two months of the season and jumped into the fray with just a week or so worth of Triple-A at-bats under his belt. Drew and Boras struggled to find a multi-year deal to their liking last winter, a fact that they at least partially chalked up to a qualifying offer limiting Drew’s market (a lofty asking price likely didn’t help matters).

Rather than take a diminished deal or even a one-year pact that would allow him to report to camp and hit the open market again this offseason, Drew waited until the Red Sox offered him the pro-rated version of the qualifying offer (roughly $10MM at that point) in late May before agreeing to a deal. As Drew’s production and near-agreement reflects, that move did not pan out as Drew’s camp had hoped.

Nonetheless, Drew is a capable defensive infielder that is just one season removed from a .253/.333/.443 batting line in 501 plate appearances with the Red Sox. His left-handed stroke does seem to be a good match with the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium, although that wasn’t the case in 2014 when he batted just .149/.208/.253 in the Bronx. This move figures to be widely panned based on last season’s struggles, but Drew doesn’t need to do much to live up to a $5MM base, and his upside is far greater than the reported $7MM at which his contract can max out. If he does fail to regain his form, his salary isn’t a significant hit to the Yankees’ deep pockets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


East Notes: Drew, Blue Jays, Toritani

As the baseball world anxiously awaits news on the Hall of Fame voting, let’s take a look in at the latest out of the game’s eastern divisions:

  • Free agent shortstop Stephen Drew is seeking “upwards of $7MM” in his next deal, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. The Mets are not interested at that rate, Puma adds, though a “significant” price drop could get New York back into the conversation.
  • Though the Yankees are content going with some combination of Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder at second heading into the spring, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that the club is still keeping an eye out for alternatives. That includes Drew, per Heyman.
  • The Blue Jays are still looking to the trade market to bolster their bullpen and will not spend up to their full capacity just to add whatever new arms they can, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. While there is still a possibility of a low-cost free agent addition, Davidi explains that the Jays look increasingly likely to go with internal options while keeping an eye out this spring or even into the season for improvements.
  • Toronto is still interested in Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani, adds Davidi, but at this point are only inclined to do a cheaper, one-year contract. Indeed, the club has not yet made an offer to him, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Orioles, Breslow

The Blue Jays only have about $9MM left to spend this offseason, Richard Griffin of TheStar.com writes. The team’s top priority is upgrading the bullpen, which means the Jays aren’t likely to spend most of that money on a second baseman or an additional bat. (Griffin notes on Twitter that the Blue Jays’ apparent lack of funds likely means they won’t get Stephen Drew, who has reportedly been asking for around $9MM.) Griffin suggests that GM Alex Anthopoulos might prefer to add a younger pitcher, which could limit the Jays’ interest in older free agent options like Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano or former team closer Casey Janssen. Instead, he could pursue trade options like Tyler Clippard, Tommy Hunter (although, as a reader points out, it does not seem likely that the Orioles would trade Hunter within the division), Tanner Scheppers, or one of any number of Athletics relievers. Here are more notes from the AL East.

  • The Orioles have recently been connected to Colby Rasmus, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com looks at the repercussions for other Orioles outfielders, and especially David Lough, if the O’s were to acquire another left-handed outfielder. The main reason for keeping Lough was his ability to play center field, but Rasmus has played center throughout his career. Separately, Kubatko notes that the Orioles will need to open a 40-man roster spot shortly to clear space for Delmon Young.
  • After struggling in 2014, Craig Breslow took an unusual road back to the Red Sox this offseason, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. “In terms of the process, it was exciting, it was unsettling,” says Breslow, who agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal to return to Boston after posting a 5.96 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 2014. “[E]veryone will go through a career with one season being their worst. Now, the fact that mine came on the cusp of free agency, that’s not how you draw it up.” Breslow attended the Winter Meetings and sat in on discussions between his agent, Bob Baratta, and various teams, explaining his tough year and making a case for himself. “Ultimately even teams we diverged from mentioned their appreciation for my involvement and that I had left an impression on them,” Breslow says.

Sherman’s Latest: Drew, Rios, Myers

Here’s the latest from Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

  • The Blue Jays, Athletics, Cubs, White Sox and Angels are interested in Stephen Drew to play second base but don’t want to pay his $9MM-$10MM asking price, Sherman writes. There’s concern that Drew’s poor 2014 season marks the beginning of a serious decline. “Fine, you want to say June and July [last year] were spring training for him, well, how about August or September? There was never a time in which he looked like a major league hitter,” says one executive. The Yankees could have interest in him, but want to commit to Didi Gregorius at shortstop and could have concern Drew would provide an easy distraction from those plans, even if he’s signed as a second baseman. Earlier this month, we guessed Drew would get a one-year, $7MM deal.
  • The Royals signed Alex Rios this offseason even though Rios rejected a trade to Kansas City last summer, Sherman says. The Rangers tried to trade Rios to the Royals, but Rios requested that Kansas City exercise his 2015 option as a condition of the deal. The Royals said no, so Rios used his no-trade clause to stop the trade. Rios thus spent the entire season with the Rangers, refusing a chance to join a team in the midst of a playoff race.
  • There have already been rumors of the Padres trading Wil Myers to Philadelphia in a Cole Hamels deal, and Sherman writes that San Diego would, in fact, consider dealing Myers, who they might feel isn’t good enough defensively to handle center field.