Stephen Drew Rumors
Now that the draft is over, teams are focusing more on bolstering their rotations with one more piece, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. No one more aggressive in the pursuit of pitching than Orioles GM Dan Duquette who knows that one veteran starter could make all the difference. While they're anxious to improve their starting five, it doesn't sound as if the O's will be in the mix for someone like Cliff Lee. “We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Astros will craft a game plan early this week for how to approach their veteran assets. Teams are already calling about Bud Norris, who has a cheap $3MM salary, but won't be cheap to acquire. The Orioles, Giants, and Pirates have kicked around the idea of acquiring Norris, but one National League exec says there will be about a dozen teams interested before all is said and done.
- It seems like a no-brainer for the A’s to pick up Coco Crisp's 2014 option for $7.5MM, but he'll be in demand if they don’t. Even though he's 33-years-old, there aren’t many top center fielder/leadoff hitter types out there. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the No. 1 guy in that department, but , one American League special assignment scout said Crisp might be a better low-cost option because “he can do everything Ellsbury can do. Neither of them have an arm, but Coco is still fast, a very good outfielder, and can still be a game-changer.”
- The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline and the Phillies are scouting those teams with a potential deal in mind. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies, but a Papelbon trade could help retool the club.
- Teams continue to nudge Javier Vazquez into coming back to pitch, but the right-hander seems to be content with staying with his family, according to a source familiar with Vazquez’s thinking.
- The Red Sox can trade Stephen Drew now that June 15th has come and gone, and they would have no problem finding a taker given the lack of shortstops around baseball. However, Boston firmly believes that Drew is their guy. One National League GM doesn't quite understand their infatuation with the shortstop. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5MM they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”
- If the White Sox decide to finally bolster their farm system, they could get some helpful prospects back by moving right-hander Jesse Crain. The reliever is becoming a top name on wish lists around baseball.
- While many baseball people remain focused on Giancarlo Stanton’s availability in a deal, 25-year-old Logan Morrison is now healthy and has returned to the lineup. The Marlins first baseman/outfielder is a big lefthanded hitter who will be monitored closely by scouts over the next month.
Some late-night links pertaining to baseball's two Central divisions...
- Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal is going to visit Dr. James Andrews to have his problematic elbow re-evaluated, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. However, GM John Mozeliak isn't second-guessing the decision not to operate on Furcal following the 2012 season.
- Hummel's colleague, Derrick Goold, writes that while the Cardinals had interest in Stephen Drew this offseason, Drew's decision came down to the Athletics or Red Sox because Furcal's presence didn't allow the Cards to guarantee Drew playing time.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy profiles Bobby Crosby and his decision to make an attempt at a Major League comeback with the Brewers. Crosby was persuaded to pursue a comeback by his father, former Major Leaguer Ed Crosby. McCalvy notes that Crosby's agent, Paul Cohen, has orchestrated successful comebacks for clients Gape Kapler, Jim Edmonds and Troy Percival in the past.
- Another comeback story -- Scott Kazmir -- is taking things slowly with the Indians, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Kazmir will work on his breaking pitches in a minor league "B" game Wednesday as he builds confidence in the pitches in a low-pressure setting. Kazmir has fired four scoreless frames with four punchouts for the Tribe thus far.
There's no denying that David Ortiz has been the game’s top designated hitter over the course of the last decade. You arrive at the same conclusion whether you use home runs, OPS or wins above replacement; no one has been better than Ortiz. Yet the rest of the designated hitters in the AL East aren't nearly as imposing: Adam Lind, Luke Scott, Travis Hafner and Wilson Betemit. Here are the latest links from the division...
- MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, that he has his doubts about the Yankees’ plans of avoiding the MLB luxury tax by 2014 (Twitter link). "I imagine Mr. Steinbrenner is sincere when he says that, but like a lot of things, I’ll believe it when I see it," Weiner said, in reference to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.
- Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues expects some team to give Joba Chamberlain the chance to start next offseason, when the right-hander hits free agency. Axisa suggests a two-year, $10MM deal such as the one Carlos Villanueva signed could be enough to land Chamberlain. Don’t expect the Yankees to sign him for that kind of money, though.
- The Red Sox didn't sign free agents just to trade them midseason, Nick Cafardo writes in a mailbag at the Boston Globe. However, Cafardo could imagine the Red Sox trading Stephen Drew if Jose Iglesias blossoms into a passable offensive contributor.
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."
The Red Sox have officially signed free agent shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year contract, the team announced. The Scott Boras client will earn $9.5MM in 2013, with another $500K available in performance bonuses.
Drew, 29, will have the chance to re-build his value in Boston and seek a multiyear deal in free agency a year from now. He posted a .223/.309/.348 batting line with seven home runs in 327 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks and Athletics this past season. The ankle injury that ended Drew's 2011 season prematurely sidelined him until the end of June, 2012.
Drew's presence in Boston will push 22-year-old infielder Jose Iglesias to the bench, or perhaps to the minor leagues. Known for his tremendous defense, Iglesias has a .264/.313/.314 batting line as a minor leaguer and doesn't have Drew's offensive upside.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has added a number of veteran free agents so far this offseason. Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, David Ross, Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara have also agreed to deals with the Red Sox (Napoli's deal hasn't been finalized, however).
The Indians, Tigers, Athletics, Yankees, and Cardinals also showed interest in Drew this offseason. He ranked 24th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents, but wasn’t linked to draft pick compensation, since he wasn’t eligible to obtain a qualifying offer.
As MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker shows, the class of free agent shortstops looks especially thin with Drew off of the board. Interested teams could turn to the trade market, where Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie are among the potential trade targets.
- "(We are still) working through some issues, and we'll continue to do so. ... Until something's done, it's not done," said the GM when asked about Mike Napoli, tweets Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. Napoli's three-year, $39MM contract reportedly hit a snag due to a red flag found during his physical.
- Cherington reiterated that he intends to keep center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. The 2011 AL MVP runner-up can become a free agent after next season.
- Stephen Drew is expected to take his physical "soon," tweets Tim Britton of The Providence Journal. The shortstop agreed to a one-year deal worth $9.5MM earlier this week.
- Earlier today the Red Sox designated Pedro Beato for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Dempster.
On this date 21 years ago, the Blue Jays signed free agent starter Jack Morris to a two-year contract. The right-hander had recently led the Twins to a memorable World Series win over the Braves, out-pitching John Smoltz with ten shutout innings in the deciding seventh game. Morris won 21 games for the 1992 Blue Jays, and Toronto captured its first World Series title. Though Morris struggled in 1993, the Blue Jays successfully defended their title. Now 57, Morris is a candidate for Hall of Fame induction. Here are today's AL East links...
- Stephen Drew will obtain $500K if he reaches 500 plate appearances in 2013, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Drew agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a one-year, $9.5MM deal yesterday.
- The Orioles have spoken with at least six teams about possible trades, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports. The Orioles are seeking a middle of the order bat, but aren't willing to trade their best prospects to obtain one. While there's some interest in pitchers such as Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, there are indications the Orioles wouldn't want to trade more than one of them. Plus, their trade value isn't particularly high.
- The Blue Jays are prioritizing present gains over future potential, Shi Davidi writes at Sportsnet.ca. But it's not about a one-year gamble for GM Alex Anthopoulos. "This allows us to really put what we feel is a contending team together for an extended run, for a three-to-five year period," Anthopoulos said. An interesting note from Davidi's piece: Zack Greinke will out-earn Dickey's $30MM contract about a month into the 2014 season. The two contracts were signed under different circumstances, of course, but it’s still noteworthy.
- Curtis Granderson expects to hit free agency after the 2013 season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. The Yankees have a team policy of waiting until players hit free agency before negotiating extensions, and Granderson doesn’t expect GM Brian Cashman to make an exception for him. “I’m just excited to play this year, and then, once we get to the end, we’ll take it at that point,” he said.
- In a separate piece, Davidoff suggests that the best-run teams -- he cites the Rays as one example -- look to contend every year instead of targeting specific windows.
Baseball people who have had the Blue Jays decline past trade proposals involving Travis d'Arnaud are “completely shocked” that GM Alex Anthopoulos has agreed to send the catching prospect to the Mets for R.A. Dickey, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. "He's out of his mind," an AL official said of the Blue Jays GM. Here are some more notes from around MLB, starting with Dickey...
- One longtime agent not involved in the extension talks between the Blue Jays and the knuckleballer said a three-year extension in the $40-45MM range would be fair for both sides, Olney reports. It’d be a surprise of Dickey gets that kind of money, however. The Mets offered him an additional $20MM over two years and he sought an additional $26MM for that two-year period.
- Rival evaluators believe this could be an extraordinary return for the Mets.
- The A’s had interest in Stephen Drew, but didn’t want to overpay to keep him. Drew, who recently agreed to sign with the Red Sox, has declining range in the view of some rival scouts.
- Olney wonders if the Rangers might pursue Jason Kubel if they can’t agree with Arizona on a trade involving Justin Upton. Some MLB executives wonder if the Rangers overvalue their own prospects, according to Olney.
- Some evaluators say the Angels have an awesome offense but that their pitching staff lacks depth.
The Red Sox have interest in signing Stephen Drew to help improve the team's infield depth, sources tell ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (via Twitter). The former Athletics and Diamondbacks shortstop is viewed as a stopgap for Boston as Drew would be able to give players like Jose Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts more time to develop by serving as the starter.
Drew's .223/.309/.348 line in 327 PAs with Arizona and Oakland this season led to the A's not picking up their end of a mutual option worth $10MM. Thea 29-year-old former FSU star may benefit from a full season of clean health as he returned to baseball in July after a severe ankle injury left him unable to play.
- A major league executive tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that he believes Drew will sign with the A's for one year with an additional player option for 2014.
- If Drew ends up signing elsewhere and the Tigers do indeed find a new shortstop (possibly Drew himself), the A's would likely make a move to acquire Jhonny Peralta. Peralta and his $6MM salary would obviously be expendable to the Tigers in that scenario.
- The two don't immediately line up on paper as a fit given the Tigers' need for a right-handed hitting outfielder (the Tigers aren't interested in Michael Taylor). However, Slusser writes that Detroit likes Jemile Weeks and would contemplate moving him to the outfield. There's no guarantee the A's would move Weeks, however, even though they demoted him to Triple-A this season.
- Hiroyuki Nakajima is still in play for the A's, and he's seeking a three-year deal worth about $5MM annually. Most believe he'll have trouble doing better than one year and an option, though.
- Contrary to some national reports, Grant Green and Brad Peacock were not on the table in the team's Yunel Escobar trade discussions with the Marlins.
- The A's aren't likely to select a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow, but there's a good chance that they lose 2007 first-rounder James Simmons to another club. Simmons, the 26th overall selection that year, posted a 2.98 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 K/9 in 63 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. The 26-year-old also turned in a dominant performance in the Arizona Fall League.