Stephen Drew Rumors
- The Mets offered Drew a salary in the neighborhood of $9.5MM, the same amount Drew made last year, but Drew rejected it. The Mets remain the team with the most need for Drew's talents.
- The Red Sox have not made a new offer to Drew since Ryan Dempster decided to take 2014 off and forfeit his $13.25MM salary for the year.
- The Pirates have "spoken about Drew," but are currently more concerned with finding an upgrade at first base. They currently have youngster Jordy Mercer penciled in at shortstop, and would have to sacrifice the No. 24 overall pick in the draft to sign Drew.
- The Blue Jays could look to Drew for help at second base.
- Heyman also notes that the qualifying offer, which has dramatically reduced the market for Drew, Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and other free agents, also has mostly helped big-payroll teams, as the Yankees and Red Sox have extended nearly half of all qualifying offers.
With the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres and Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs now over two years distant, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at its background and how it has played out to date. While both players have proven that their talent plays at the big league level, each still comes with questions. Nevertheless, the trade appears to have been quite an equal swap at this point, he opines.
Here's more from the National League:
- The Mets hesitation with respect to shortstop Stephen Drew relates to the team's valuations of him and internal option Ruben Tejada, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. "At the numbers he's looking for," a source told DiComo, "we don't think he's worth it compared to what we have." At this point, a trade of Ike Davis is a more likely outcome than the signing of Drew, says DiComo.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said today that a platoon was possible at second base, a prospect that Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times questions. Both Alexander Guerrero and Dee Gordon -- the two likely platoon options -- are converting from shortstop, and each brings lots of uncertainty to the table. Guerrero, the club's most expensive offseason acquisition, has reportedly had some struggles moving to the other side of the bag, but putting his right-handed bat in a platoon role would significantly limit his plate appearances.
- In spite of a resoundingly successful 2013 campaign, Pirates GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle will both go into the season without a contractual assurance that they'll be around for another. As Rob Biertempfel of the PIttsburgh Tribune-Review reports, Owner Bob Nutting said today that extensions for the two are not a major priority, though he indicated that he'd be amenable to talks at the right time. "What they've done for the organization in good and bad times really is tremendous," said Nutting, "and I hope they're with the organization for a long time. My expectation is they're going to be critically important pieces of this organization as we go forward."
- Nutting also indicated that the Pirates would still consider giving up a draft pick to sign a free agent, Biertempfel further reports. "Certainly nothing is off the table," he said. "But at the same time, we need to recognize that a first-round draft pick is a meaningful source of talent for a team like the Pirates. We want to be smart and cautious." The Bucs have spoken with first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, Biertempfel notes, though the extent of the team's interest remains unknown.
The Yankees made an offer to free agent infielder Stephen Drew earlier in the off-season, believed to be for two or three years, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Nevertheless, the report indicates, the Yankees do not appear to be one of the four teams still pursuing the 30-year-old.
At the time of the offer, says Sherman, New York was making offers to multiple players while explaining that they would pull them back as necessary as things developed. Drew hoped at the time to land a bigger deal, and the club ultimately withdrew its offer at some point during its massive outlay on several prominent free agents.
Notably, Sherman's article does not indicate that the Yankees have current interest in Drew, but instead throws more cold water on the idea. (Other recent reports, of course, have said that the team does not intend to pursue him.) Sherman writes that principal owner Hal Steinbrenner called for a halt to spending after signing Masahiro Tanaka, and that the club is "not bending for Drew."
Without Drew, argues Sherman, the club will likely find a mid-season need for a player of his ilk, but will be hard-pressed to acquire one. Sherman presented that situation to Steinbrenner for comment, and his response seems to indicate that the team feels ready to move forward as presently constructed:
"No team is without concerns. We will address those concerns as we go, just as we did in several areas last year. ... I am comfortable with our payroll as it stands now. ... We have a very good club and we will continue to improve in areas that we see need it; not just in areas that need it on paper. We need to see what actually transpires in those areas and react."
Though several other organizations have been mentioned in the past as hypothetical landing spots, there has not been much in the way of firm reports connecting Drew with alternative destinations. Though Bowden does not indicate the strenght of interest from the two mystery clubs, it bodes well for Drew that his market extends beyond Boston and New York.
Of course, the issue still facing Drew is that none of his apparent suitors appears to have significant urgency to add him, making it difficult to drive up his price. The Mets, for instance, are not willing to pay Drew in the vicinity of the $14.1MM qualifying offer that he already declined, according to a recent report from Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter).
Here's the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
- Rival executives aren't all enthusiastic about Craig Kimbrel's new deal with the Braves, citing the downside risk in long-term deals for closers. Rosenthal notes, however, that Kimbrel's new contract could reduce the Braves' payouts in what would have been his arbitration years.
- The Braves' new ballpark galvanized the team's recent extension spree, GM Frank Wren says.
- The Red Sox have enough depth that they don't need to worry about replacing Ryan Dempster in their rotation. The $13.25MM they would have paid Dempster also might not have a huge impact on whether or not they sign Stephen Drew. Signing Drew would cost the Red Sox the compensation pick they would receive if he were to sign elsewhere, and it would have implications for youngsters Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks as well.
- A.J. Burnett says the two years he spent with the Pirates marked a new phase of his career. "I found who I was again, I guess," says Burnett. "I will never put myself in the same category as a (Roy) Halladay, ever. But as far as mentor-wise and player relations-wise, I became that guy over there. ... It showed me who I was, who I could have been for a long time that I wasn't." After the Yankees traded him to Pittsburgh, Burnett emerged as a leader to younger pitchers like Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton.
The Rays haven't yet traded David Price, and Price thinks the holdup on the pitching market due to Masahiro Tanaka's arrival might be the reason why, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. "With Tanaka not being able to sign until the 24th [of January] and stuff like that, it seemed like teams waited for that market to fall," Price says. "You know, if he had signed during the winter meetings or something, it might have been a little bit different. That would have given teams a lot more time to figure out what they wanted to do." Still, Stark quotes an executive who notes the Rays will still probably eventually trade Price, because deals for players like Wil Myers and Chris Archer are currently the Rays' most reliable way to accumulate talent, since recent drafts haven't yielded much top talent and since they don't have the budget to acquire key players on the free-agent market. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Brett Wallace isn't concerned that the Astros removed him from their 40-man roster, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. His goal before was to win a job coming out of camp, and that's still his goal. "I was coming in here to win a job anyway. Being on the roster doesn't guarantee you anything," he says.
- John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen, who were both eligible for arbitration this winter, both now have contracts that are guaranteed, writes Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. Mayberry is under contract for $1.59MM, while Frandsen will make $900K. That could affect the Phillies as they try to set their roster, because they can't cut either of them in spring training without running the risk of paying them their entire salaries anyway. Often, contracts for players in their arbitration-eligible seasons are non-guaranteed, as was the case with, for example, Emilio Bonifacio and the Royals. When the Royals designated Bonifacio for assignment, they paid only a percentage of his $3.5MM salary.
- Manager John Farrell says the Red Sox still don't know whether Stephen Drew will return to them, and they don't want a "lingering what-if" in the clubhouse as the season approaches, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts would move to third base and third baseman Will Middlebrooks would move to the bench if Drew were to re-sign.
As camps open around the game, let's take a look at a few notable free agents who remain unsigned:
- Though long-time shortstop Derek Jeter is now set to retire after the year, and the club faces questions around the infield, the Yankees are still not interested in adding Stephen Drew, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand notes that the club could have its eye on a bigger fish as an eventual replacement for Jeter, suggesting the possibility of looking at next year's free agent market or trying to trade for a big-contract star like Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. But the availability of those options remains unclear, especially given that the Yanks possess a farm that most regard as below average. And while 2015 currently promises a nice crop of free agent shortstops -- headlined, at present, by Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera -- it is far from certain that all of those players will reach the open market.
- Echoing Marchand on the Yankees' interest, ESPN.com's Buster Olney told WEEI's Mut & Merloni (via WEEI.com's Jerry Spar) that Drew's market looks poor. The Pirates make sense in theory, says Olney, but the club seems very unlikely to give up its first-round pick to land him. Olney opines that the shortstop's best bet, at this point, could be to wait and see if a contender loses an infielder to injury. Though he agrees that Drew faces difficult market, Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that Drew and agent Scott Boras should instead act quickly to speed up negotiations and get the best deal possible.
- Of course, one obvious landing spot all along has been the Red Sox, who could use Drew to bolster the left side of the infield without giving up a pick (other than the one they stand to gain should he sign elsewhere). As WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports, however, Boston has settled into the position that it would be interested in a one-year arrangement. That could take the form of a straightforward one-year deal, or could be structured with a low-value player option for a second season (like Adrian Beltre's 2010 deal) that would spread the contract's luxury tax impact.
- The Twins, who have been mentioned as a dark horse suitor for both Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz, likely have sufficient payroll space to make an addition, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the team is not willing to meet the demands currently being floated on those players, and has not been in recent contact on either.
- Bean Stringfellow, the agent for starter Ervin Santana, rejected an apparent rumor that the Blue Jays had offered his client a three-year, $27MM deal, reports John Lott of the National Post. Stringfellow also dismissed the rumor that he had earlier demanded five years and $112MM for Santana. Though some clubs may hope to wait out the market for prices to fall, Stringfellow says he is not concerned by that possibility. "The calendar doesn't really affect us in that regard," he said. "The teams need the pitching by Opening Day. That's when the bell rings. I think a lot of clubs might think that as [Opening Day] gets closer, the price comes down. I would simply say to that, 'You're not filling your need for pitching, so I don't know why our value is any less when your need is still as great as what it was.'"
- Though Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment on any offers to Santana, he said that the club would remain true to its internal valuations of free agents. "We just haven't been able to line up on value, on years and dollars," Anthopoulos added with regard to the team's possible targets.
- Another team that is reportedly dabbling in the starting pitching market is the Mariners. The club is not just looking at top options like Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), but is casting a "wide net" in its search for an arm.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is looking for a major league deal, sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he received good reports from Madson's recent throwing session, but did not leave the impression that Philadelphia was the likely landing spot. "Our reports were good when we saw him," said Amaro, "so he's going to sign somewhere." As Zolecki notes, Philly may be unwilling to give out a major league deal, especially given Madson's injury history and the recent signing of A.J. Burnett.
Perhaps the most intriguing "what if?" scenario in recent baseball history is what if Alex Rodriguez has joined the Red Sox (rather than the Yankees) prior to the 2004 season. The Deal, the latest instalment of ESPN's "30 For 30 Shorts" series, explores the near-trade that would've sent Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Brandon McCarthy from the Rangers to the Red Sox in exchange for Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra and Jon Lester. A-Rod even agreed to restructure his contract and take less money to make the deal work, though this was what eventually scuttled the trade, as the MLBPA wouldn't allow the agreement due to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. Only a few weeks later, Texas instead traded Rodriguez to the Yankees and the rest is history.
Here's the latest in a very newsworthy day from around the AL East...
- Derek Jeter's impending retirement underscores the Yankees' lack of shortstop depth, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch writes, as it seems that Jeter's eventual replacement isn't currently on New York's roster. The Yankees could sign one of the quality shortstops available in next winter's free agent class, Hoch notes, or Stephen Drew exists as a current option that could be signed to play second or third for a year and then take over at short in 2015.
- Scott Boras, Drew's agent, has recently been looking to get his client an opt-out clause after the first year of a new deal. While some see Boras' demands as a longshot, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes that the opt-out could fit into the Yankees' plans, making Drew an even more obvious upgrade for the club's infield.
- The Red Sox haven't offered Drew a contract for longer than one year, John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter). Drew would like at least a one-year contract and an option, a source tells Tomase.
- The Orioles continue to be in contact with Kendrys Morales' representatives and are still interested in the free agent slugger, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- It seems as if the Orioles prefer Ervin Santana to Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes, as he has heard more tying the O's to the former free agent hurler than he has the latter. "I know the Orioles have talked to his people, but I didn’t get a sense that he was atop their list," Connolly says. There were whispers earlier this week that the O's were upping their pursuit of Santana or Jimenez. In the same piece, Connolly answers a number of Orioles-related questions from fans on Twitter.
11:52pm: Carig now cites another source (via Twitter) who says that Drew and the Mets have had "continuous discussions."
9:53pm: Free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew and the Mets haven't talked much recently, Newsday's Marc Carig writes. "Regarding Drew, there has not been much dialogue at all," a source close to the Mets told Carig.
Heading into mid-February, there isn't much indication that Drew is close to signing. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has said that he didn't expect his team to sign Drew before spring training started. Meanwhile, the Mets' level of interest has seemed tepid, even though they currently have Ruben Tejada, who struggled through a miserable 2013 season, penciled in as their starting shortstop. As with a number of high-profile free agents who remain unsigned, the issue of draft-pick forfeiture appears to have had a significant impact on Drew's market. As Carig notes, however, Drew's agent, Scott Boras, is no stranger to 11th-hour deals, and he has a week to go before position players report to spring training.
Five years ago today, Alex Rodriguez admitted and apologized for using PEDs during his tenure with the Rangers. Rodriguez blamed the pressure of trying to fulfill the expectations created by his then-record 10-year, $252MM contract. Two days ago, Rodriguez voluntarily dismissed his federal lawsuit against MLB, the Commissioner's Office, and the MLBPA and will serve his 162-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis affair. Here's the latest from the American League:
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) he doesn't expect anything to happen with Stephen Drew before the start of Spring Training; but, out of respect for the shortstop, has maintained a dialogue with agent Scott Boras.
- Cherington also told the pair he is working the phones to add another reliever (via a Bowden tweet).
- The Red Sox's starting rotation, currently flush with experienced hurlers, could take on a much younger and cheaper look in the next 12-18 months, writes the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber. Left-hander Henry Owens headlines the list of Boston's pitching prospects on the verge of reaching the Majors, according to Lauber.
- Having lost out on Bronson Arroyo and entering the second week of February without a truly significant free agent acquisition, the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck opines it's fair to wonder how much the Orioles really want to win this year.
- Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters recently, including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade set the tone for the other moves he made this offseason. "If that move wasn’t made, you’re really in a position where you’re kind of back to where you were. It was one move that set off our plans in place." One part of that plan has received much scrutiny: dealing Doug Fister to the Nationals. Dombrowski said Fister was expendable because the Tigers have six solid starters with three of them (Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Drew Smyly) under contract for at least the next four years while also proclaiming he'd love to have Max Scherzer "stay as a Tiger for a long time."
- Johnny Damon, whose last MLB appearance was with the Indians in 2012, is open to managing or resuming his playing career, but only on the Major League level, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.