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Stephen Drew Rumors
Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy is scheduled to start today against the Astros. The Red Sox have no contingency plan in place in case he’s unable to start, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes, which likely means no trade is imminent. “If I’m made aware that something is imminent there will be a contingency plan, but there’s no contingency for him,” says manager John Farrell. The Red Sox will likely trade Peavy in order to clear space for younger pitchers in Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman. Here’s more from the American League.
- Less than two months after signing with the Red Sox, Stephen Drew is contemplating the possibility of being traded, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. “Hopefully I’m here for the year. But I can’t tell you that,” says Drew. The shortstop says he has “no regrets” about rejecting the Red Sox’ qualifying offer, a decision that ultimately cost him money. But, he says, “It’s something that, we’ve got to look at that rule that kind of hurt some players and myself. It’s difficult to come up here and these guys have three months on you until the season’s over all the time.”
- The Tigers are likely to be linked to plenty of relievers as the trade deadline approaches, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. The Tigers aren’t likely to take on a big commitment, which could make someone like the Padres’ Joaquin Benoit (who is due significant salary in 2015) a less likely target than someone like the Rangers’ Joakim Soria (who will be a free agent after the season if his club option is declined).
Grant Balfour is no longer the Rays‘ closer, as manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that his team is moving to a closer committee. The demotion comes as no surprise following Balfour’s rough performance on Sunday, when he allowed the Mariners to score five runs in the ninth inning. Balfour has struggled badly this season, posting a 6.46 ERA and recording almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) over 23 2/3 innings of work. The 36-year-old signed a two-year, $12MM free agent contract with Tampa in the offseason. If you have Balfour on a fantasy team, stay tuned to @CloserNews (MLBTR’s save-centric sister Twitter account) to keep tabs on the Rays’ bullpen and other late-game situations throughout baseball.
Here’s some more from the AL East…
- The Rays could be sellers at the trade deadline, and Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris looks at some of the club’s veteran pieces with a particular focus on David Price. While Tampa Bay will rightly seek a big prospect haul for Price, Sarris notes the difficulty in finding a contender (especially outside the AL East) who has the necessary minor league depth to swing a trade. Sarris also notes that a fire sale seems unlikely, as the Rays will still look to contend in 2015.
- Peter Gammons discussed several Red Sox topics in an interview on the Dennis & Callahan radio show this morning (WEEI.com’s Conor Ryan has a partial transcript). While Gammons doesn’t think the Red Sox regret signing the struggling Stephen Drew, “there are so many political angles at play here that you’ve just got to wonder, ‘What are they going to be a year from now?” Gammons believes the Boston media’s criticisms of Xander Bogaerts‘ ability to play short pressured the club to re-sign Drew, whereas Gammons felt the Red Sox should’ve acquired an outfielder instead.
- Gammons doesn’t see the Red Sox becoming major sellers if they fall out of the race because they want pitchers like Jon Lester and John Lackey back in 2015 and also “just because of the nature of the Boston fans and because of the nature of the market and because of NESN.” A.J. Pierzynski could potentially become a trade chip if the Sox fell far enough out of a playoff spot, which would open the door for Christian Vasquez to get called up and gain some big league experience.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington won’t make moves for the sake of making moves, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes, as the current roster will have to prove its worth as a contender over the next six weeks to convince the front office to pursue upgrades.
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette appeared on Middays With MFB today (again, tip of the cap to WEEI.com’s Conor Ryan) and said that trade talk around the league is slow since so many teams are still technically in contention. “There aren’t many sellers, from what I can tell. Usually after the draft, which was just completed, teams will start calling around, but I only know that there’s just a couple of sellers right now….It’s going to be challenging to add to the team,” Duquette said.
- The Yankees should look to shake up their struggling lineup by getting rid of Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano, Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog opines. Since Derek Jeter won’t be moved down in the lineup due to his stature, Axisa suggests that Jeter actually become the leadoff hitter in order to have the Yankees’ best four hitters (Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, Yangervis Solarte) all hit in a row.
The injury bug has struck the Red Sox again. Mike Carp, who replaced the injured Mike Napoli at first base, under went a CT scan today and it revealed a broken foot, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The injury will set off a series of roster moves with Stephen Drew ready to join the club in Cleveland tomorrow. MacPherson tweets the Red Sox will place Carp on the disabled list and and recall Daniel Nava. Garin Cecchini, who made his MLB debut today when Dustin Pedroia was ejected and went 1-for-2 with a RBI double, told reporters (including Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com) he will have dinner with his parents and then report to Triple-A Pawtucket. Prior to the announcement of Carp’s injury, the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber outlined how the Red Sox could juggle playing time with the addition of Drew.
Elsewhere in baseball’s East divisions:
- The Marlins acquired right-handed reliever Bryan Morris from the Pirates earlier in the day and the team is already being criticized for the move. Fangraph’s Dave Cameron opines Morris is a below replacement level pitcher and giving up the 39th pick in the draft for him (an asset worth several million dollars) is “beyond crazy” (Twitter links).
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio agrees with Cameron tweeting Morris is not worth past number 39 picks like Lance Lynn (Cardinals), Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox), and Joey Gallo (Rangers).
- Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill defended the trade to reporters, including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez. “We had a need,” Hill said. “It was in our bullpen. We were looking for the piece that was the right fit for us in terms of controlling, not just short-term, but long-term, and [Morris] had the stuff to help our club as well.“
- Hill also said the trade “is the first piece” as he attempts to strengthen the second-place Marlins. “I don’t think we’re finished in trying to improve our club. We’re still trying to make as many improvements as we think we can to help this team.“
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com chronicles the development of Red Sox right-hander Rubby De La Rosa from a prospect who had trouble harnessing his potential to the pitcher who tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts Saturday night.
- Right-hander Luis Ayala, who opted out of his minor league deal with the Orioles yesterday, will pitch in Mexico, tweets MASNsports.com’s Rock Kubatko.
Stephen Drew chose to ink a one-year deal with the Red Sox in spite of the fact that he received multi-year offers since the start of the season, agent Scott Boras said today on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via WEEI.com’s Joon Lee). “The quest, knowing that Stephen had set forth a path to achieve the dynamic of being an unrestricted free agent the idea was to put himself in a position where the team, and within an environment we knew he could be successful,” said Boras. “It turned out we did get multi-year offers as the season opened up but it was Stephen’s decision to take a one-year deal and return to the Red Sox and have a chance to compete for another championship.” Boras indicated that, after Drew was unable to get a multi-year contract wrapped up before the season, his agency focused on the fact that Drew could avoid a second consecutive qualifying offer by waiting to sign until the season had started, calling it “a right that is of great and substantial value.”
- Red Sox Starter Felix Doubront has been placed on the 15-day DL after experiencing increasing shoulder numbness throughout last night’s game. Lee has the story, noting that Doubront will await the results of an MRI today. The 26-year-old lefty said today that he had banged the shoulder into his car door at some point prior to the start, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- Doubront’s injury adds to the increasing uncertainty in the Red Sox rotation, which has compiled 4.6 fWAR but owns a mediocre 4.31 ERA. Jake Peavy has seen his earned run mark balloon from 1.93 (after his April 15 start) up to 4.33 at present, while Clay Buchholz has looked out of sorts and was run early again today. Speier took a look at the club’s internal options to fill in for Doubront, each of whom could be called upon if other needs arise as well. Brandon Workman still seems the most likely immediately call-up due to his recent big league experience, with Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, and Anthony Ranaudo all viable options as well. (Speier also mentions Matt Barnes, but notes that he is not on the 40-man and is still building up arm strength after a delayed start to the season.)
- Meanwhile, the pitching injury issues continued to be compounded for the Yankees, who learned that reliever Shawn Kelley has suffered a setback, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Kelley, who spent time as the team’s injury-replacement closer earlier in the season, had been expected to begin mound work in the coming days, but he experienced back stiffness after playing catch. Nevertheless, manager Joe Girardi said that an MRI had shown no structural issues.
- A cast of Baseball Prospectus writers participated in a written debate over the prospect value of Orioles righty Hunter Harvey, who opened the year as the game’s 58th-best prospect in the view of BP and has dominated early in 2014. While Ryan Parker and CJ Wittmann disagree slightly on Harvey’s ceiling, both agree that he projects as at least a number-three starter and is likely to jump up on prospect lists. Baltimore seems to have a steal with Harvey, who was snatched with the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft and signed for the slot recommendation of about $1.95MM. He slots alongside well-regarded minor league arms like Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Eduardo Rodriguez to form an impressive group of young pitching filtering up to Baltimore.
If the offseason felt long to you, imagine how Stephen Drew must have felt. Today, the shortstop’s extended spring officially came to a close when the Red Sox announced that they signed him to a one-year deal, reportedly worth the prorated portion of the $14.1MM qualifying offer ($10.1MM). The Red Sox, who had a significant need on the left side of the infield and didn’t have to forfeit a pick to sign their own free agent, have been regarded as a frontrunner for months, but there wasn’t a lot of foreshadowing in recent days. On a conference call this afternoon, I asked General Manager Ben Cherington when the talks got more serious between him and agent Scott Boras.
“I would say that talks picked up over the weekend and into the early part of the week,” the GM said. “We know Stephen well. He did a great job for us last year and he’s a very good Major League shortstop and a good teammate and does a lot of good things that we value…We have a high degree of respect for Stephen, what he can do on the field, and what he can do for our team. We’re happy to have him back on the team.”
The signing of Drew will have a reverb effect for other Red Sox players. Xander Bogaerts, who was charged with manning shortstop in 2014, will shift over to third base, bumping the injured Will Middlebrooks out of the starting lineup. Drew’s arrival also backs things up for well-regarded third base prospect Garin Cecchini. When it comes to Bogaerts, Cherington says that after this season, his future could still very well be at shortstop.
“We believe that he can play shortstop well, things have stabilized there. I know he made a couple of errors last night but we believed last year and during Spring Training that he can play shortstop, we still believe that. This move with Stephen is not in any way about a lack of belief that Xander can play short,” Cherington said. “Xander’s ability to play short and third base allowed us to consider different options and alternatives. Stephen just happened to be the one we pursued.”
When asked if Drew’s arrival could signal some sort of position change for Middlebrooks, Cherington was non-committal and said that his main focus was getting the 25-year-old healthy.
As for Drew himself, Cherington confirmed that he’ll be on the Major League roster tonight but won’t be in the lineup against the Blue Jays. Drew will ultimately have a stint in the minors to warm up to big league action, but because of “administrative steps” that need to take place, there’s not an exact timetable for that just yet.
Presumably, Cherington is referring to the fact that Drew needs to pass through optional waivers, which take 48 hours, as the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported earlier this afternoon (Twitter link). Cafardo noted that Drew has consented to head to the minors to pick up 25 at-bats before playing with the big league club.
The Red Sox have officially announced the re-signing of Stephen Drew to a one-year deal that is reportedly worth the pro-rated portion of the $14.1MM qualifying offer. In other words, the Scott Boras client will be paid roughly $10.1MM for the remainder of the 2014 season before again being eligible for free agency.
Drew’s value this offseason was weighed down by a number of factors. He rejected a $14.1MM qualifying offer last November, meaning that any team (other than Boston) that wished to sign him would have to forfeit its top unprotected pick. Additionally, there were a lack of teams that were willing to spend and had a clear need for an upgrade at shortstop. The asking price of both Drew and Boras likely also weighed on interested parties.
Boston appeared to be a ready to move on from Drew and go with a left side of the infield that included Will Middlebrooks at third base and Xander Bogaerts at shortstop. However, Middlebrooks is hitting just .197/.305/.324 and is on the disabled list for the second time this season already. Bogaerts hasn’t excelled with the bat as they’d hoped, hitting a solid but unspectacular .269/.369/.379. The bigger issue with Bogaerts, however, has been his glove at shortstop. Though he’s made just four errors, his range has been below average, and both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved feel he’s played well below-average defense.
Boston likely expected to receive a compensatory draft pick to go along with their youth movement, but the fact that Drew clearly wasn’t going to sign elsewhere prior to the draft presented GM Ben Cherington with two options: sign Drew now or see him sign elsewhere while receiving nothing in return. Given the club’s deficiencies on the left side of the infield, the Sox opted for the external upgrade rather than hoping that their young infielders would heal up and pick up the pace at the plate.
Drew, 31, enjoyed a nice bounce-back campaign with the Sox in 2013, slashing a solid .253/.333/.443 with 13 homers in 501 plate appearances. He played solid defense at short, per Ultimate Zone Rating (+6.7 UZR/150), though Defensive Runs Saved (-2) wasn’t as big of a fan. The Red Sox loved Drew’s glove at short, however (particularly in the playoffs), and his ability with the leather was enough to keep him from being platooned despite a .196/.246/.340 batting line against southpaws.
Drew will play short for Boston, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweeted yesterday, which of course means that Bogaerts will shift to third. Drew will go directly onto the active MLB roster but spend a week or more getting back up to speed in the minors, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter links). (As Joel Sherman of the New York Post explained on Twitter, Drew has to join the active roster because he signed a major league deal.)
The team “back-channeled” with Drew over the course of the season and met with him at least once in April, tweeted Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Ultimately, the signing came together within the last two days, a source told Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter link).
While a pro-rated one-year deal is hardly an ideal scenario for Drew, the fact that he won’t be on Boston’s roster for the entire season means that he’ll be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer next offseason, which should improve his chances of landing a strong multi-year deal considerably. Of course, he’ll also face steeper competition on the shortstop market than he did this past offseason and will be coming off a shorter season than if he’d simply signed earlier in the year. Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are all set to hit the open market following the 2014 campaign.
Drew is the first case of a player waiting to sign until after the start of a season to avoid a qualifying offer the following year. Kyle Lohse and Ervin Santana came close by signing in Spring Training in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and Kendrys Morales figures to wait until after the draft in order to avoid such an offer and shed the draft pick that is currently attached to his name (he rejected a qualifying offer from the Mariners).
Boras has used the troubles of Drew and Morales to voice considerable displeasure with Major League Baseball’s qualifying offer system this offseason. While many will be quick to point out that Boras has a clearly biased take, MLBTR’s Zach Links spoke with a number of executives earlier this spring, and even they agreed that the qualifying offer system was advantageous to teams. We at MLBTR even predicted a four-year deal was possible for Drew in spite of a qualifying offer. Morales, Lohse, Santana and Nelson Cruz are examples of additional players that have seen their value likely diminished by their attachment to draft pick compensation.
Ultimately, Drew cost himself roughly $4MM and two months of playing time in order to shed the possibility of being saddled with a qualifying offer again next offseason. If he’s able to land a lucrative multi-year deal, it’s still possible that he could come out ahead in the long run, financially speaking.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Though they were never that interested in Stephen Drew, finding a solution at shortstop remains a priority for the Mets, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. While the upcoming free agent class features prominent names such as Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie, Martino hears that the team isn’t looking at that market yet. Rather, the Mets are focused on adding a young, controllable shortstop on the trade market this summer.
Martino lists Brad Miller and Nick Franklin of the Mariners as possibilities, though one source tells him that the two sides haven’t been in contact recently. Arizona’s Didi Gregorius is hitting very well at Triple-A Reno, and Martino says the Mets are continually monitoring him, but the front office shakeup in Arizona makes trading with them a bit confusing at this time, he adds. Martino writes that other teams, at this point, aren’t even sure whether to contact GM Kevin Towers or new Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa regarding trades, though Mets GM Sandy Alderson has a good relationship with both.
He continues by stating that the Mets were only interested in Drew on a one-year deal, as they didn’t want to be responsible for 2015 and beyond if he struggled this season. The team currently wants to see if Wilmer Flores can handle the position, but his defensive question marks have been well-documented.
From this point on, I’m purely speculating, but I wonder if a name like Hak-Ju Lee could be available on the trade market now that the Rays have extended Yunel Escobar‘s contract through at least 2016. Lee is struggling thus far in his return from multiple ligament tears in his knee last season, but he’s a former Top 100 prospect that could be blocked on the big league roster.
The Rangers also have some middle infield depth with Luis Sardinas likely blocked from a starting role due to the presence of Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. The pitching-hungry Twins also have a solid shortstop prospect in Danny Santana, though their own lack of a quality long-term option at short might make them hesitant to deal the 23-year-old.
The Mets possess enviable pitching depth with Matt Harvey on the mend from Tommy John surgery and a group of young starters including Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and top prospect Noah Syndergaard. With such a wide range of arms under team control, the Mets could conceivably use that depth to entice a rival club to part with a controllable shortstop.
The Red Sox ended the long Stephen Drew saga today, agreeing to re-sign the shortstop at a pro-rated annual salary equivalent to the $14.1MM qualifying offer that he declined before the season. Certainly, the signing is interesting on many levels, not least of which because it came with the team staring at the very real possibility of losing the compensatory draft pick it probably hoped to pick up. Drew now joins Ervin Santana and Nelson Cruz in taking one-year deals at or below the QO rate. In Drew’s case, the timing also seemingly reveals something about the present and future market assessment of his agent, Scott Boras. It seems that either or both of the following is likely true to some degree: first, that Boras did not believe Drew would garner an attractive multi-year offer after the amatuer draft passed; and second, that Boras believes Drew can achieve such a deal on next year’s free agent market. Notably, while Drew will not be eligible to receive a qualifying offer, he will be joined in free agency by some or all of Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Here’s more on Drew’s signing:
- Part of the Red Sox’ calculus in making the move for Drew involved his alternate landing spots, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports on Twitter. Several American League competitors could have looked to add him after the draft, including the Tigers and division rivals like the Yankees (if not also the Orioles and Blue Jays).
- Exactly what kind of interest Drew would have received after shedding draft compensation may never be known, but at least two oft-cited suitors downplayed their interest in the aftermath of the signing. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said that the move “really hasn’t been discussed internally,” reports Tom Gage of the Detroit News (via Twitter). And Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that his club would not have paid Drew what he received from Boston, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Indeed, neither the Mets nor the Yankees were ever really serious pursuers of Drew, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- From the Red Sox’ perspective, adding Drew raised questions about the team’s plans for younger players Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks. Drew is expected to play short, at least against right-handers, reports Tim Britton of the Providence Journal (Twitter links), who says the team will at least consider keeping Middlebrooks on the MLB roster in some form of an indirect platoon with Drew when he comes off the DL. Presumably, Bogaerts would take short against lefties in that scenario, but as Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com reports, statements from manager John Farrell indicate that Drew will handle most of the load at shortstop. Adding to the intrigue, Farrell also said that the team’s lineup would “depend upon who’s on this team” and “what the roster looks like,” Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports (Twitter links). As MacPherson suggests, that could suggest that the team views Middlebrooks as expendable. Certainly, it would not be surprising to hear his name arise in trade talks over the summer.
- The deal is a win for Boston, which needed an upgrade at the left side of the infield and did not pay a big price to do so, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. But it is not a bad result for Drew either, Cameron says, because his loss of salary this year (as against taking the QO at the beginning of the year) could still be offset by gains from re-entering the market without compensation attached. Addressing the same point, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com agrees that things could still work out in the end for Drew, while noting that the vagaries of the market could decide that question.
- MacPherson writes that the Red Sox did well to shore up their defense and add another bat to play against righties. While the team may have expected, or even hoped, that Drew would sign elsewhere and return a draft pick, that ship had sailed and the team was able to follow through with an attractive back-up strategy when the need arose.
- The key to the deal for Boston is the short-term nature of the commitment, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Prospects Deven Marrero and Garin Cecchini join Bogaerts as near-future options on the left side of the infield, says Rosenthal, and the signing does nothing to change the club’s bright outlook in that respect.
The Red Sox are considering potential upgrades, including trades, at third base, WEEI’s Rob Bradford writes, citing a source within baseball. With Will Middlebrooks currently out with a fractured index finger, the Red Sox currently have Brock Holt at third. The Red Sox were struggling at third base this season even before Middlebrooks’ injury, with Middlebrooks hitting .197/.305/.324 in 82 plate appearances.
Bradford notes that the Red Sox have not recently had discussions with Scott Boras about free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. One potential reason for that, as the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber notes, is that they are uninterested in moving Xander Bogaerts to third — they want a full season to evaluate Bogaerts at shortstop before considering moving him elsewhere. “We don’t have any reason to believe he can’t play short,” says GM Ben Cherington. “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.”
Let’s take a look at a few notes out of the American League to round out the evening:
- While recent developments have made free agent infielder Stephen Drew a more enticing fit for the Red Sox, the club has yet to re-engage agent Scott Boras, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The fractured right finger of Will Middlebrooks – to say nothing of his sluggish play — has clouded Boston’s third base picture, and it now seems quite unlikely that the team will pick up a draft choice through another club inking the compensation-bound Drew. (With only weeks remaining until the amateur draft, interested clubs will presumably wait until the draft passes and signing Drew no longer requires the sacrifice of a pick.) While Speier notes that the Sox’ approach could still change before the draft, it bears noting that Drew himself is now free of the compensation as a practical matter and has little to lose by waiting for his market to open up.
- The Angels could stand not only to add to the back of the bullpen, but also the starting rotation, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). Los Angeles looked to add Ian Kennedy last year, says Rosenthal, who opines that the club might be interested in dealing for a mid-level arm like Dillon Gee of the Mets. While payroll space is probably not much of an issue, the club does not have a deep set of prospects from which to deal.
- Veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki has turned his career trajectory on its head through his first 137 plate appearances of 2014, posting an excellent .322/.390/.424 line for the Twins. Needless to say, that is a nice return on the one-year, $2.75MM contract he signed over the offseason. Minnesota could be interested in discussing an extension with Suzuki before the summer is out, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, though the club has not yet engaged him. Suzuki has hit well enough that the ZiPS projection system now likes him to produce at a league-average rate for the rest of the year; combined with his well-regarded defensive skills, clubhouse presence, and relatively young age of 30, Suzuki could be setting himself up as a fairly attractive trade chip and future free agent target if the Twins don’t move to lock him up.