Stephen Drew Rumors
As always, New York will be an interesting market to watch this season, highlighted by the Yankees' attempts to re-sign Robinson Cano and the Mets' desire to aggressively participate in the free agent market. Here's the latest on both teams, courtesy of Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News...
- The Yankees have already been linked to big fish like Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran, but Heyman adds that they've also had internal discussions about Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza and Stephen Drew. As Heyman points out, Drew would be a peculiar target given Derek Jeter's $9.5MM player option for 2014.
- According to Heyman, the Yankees are still the favorites for Cano, but there's a sizable gap between his eye-popping $305-310MM asking price and the Yankees' current thinking. Heyman says the Yankees have only shown a willingness to go to $160MM or so to this point.
- According to Martino, no one from either camp has denied the fact that Cano's camp began negotiations by asking for $300MM+.
- Martino adds that the Mets aren't likely to pursue Ellsbury on the free agent market, as his sources have indicated that GM Sandy Alderson simply isn't comfortable with the type of contract that Ellsbury will ultimately end up signing. Instead, expect the Mets to pursue trades and free agent signings of corner outfielders, as they're very pleased with Juan Lagares' glove in center field. This marks the second instance in the past six weeks or so in which we've heard specifically that the Mets aren't a likely match for Ellsbury.
- General manager Brian Cashman worries that Hiroki Kuroda will return to Japan, writes Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger. He adds that one baseball official to whom he spoke would "be blown away" if Curtis Granderson didn't receive a series of lucrative offers on the open market despite his lost season.
The Red Sox plan on extending qualifying offers to Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That Ellsbury will receive a qualifying offer is no surprise; he currently ranks second on MLBTR's Free Agent Power Rankings and is commonly thought to be the No. 2 free agent on the market behind Robinson Cano.
Likewise, the news that Napoli and Drew will receive qualifying offers is none too surprising. Napoli is one of the top power bats on this year's free agent market, and the $14.1MM value of a qualifying offer would be just a $1.1MM raise on the $13MM he earned in 2013 after hitting all of the incentives on his one-year contract.
Drew earned $9.5MM in 2013, so the risk is somewhat more substantial for the Red Sox, especially considering the fact that they have Xander Bogaerts in tow as the shortstop of the future. However, Drew should be able to secure a multiyear contract in what is, as always, a thin class of free agent shortstops. He and Jhonny Peralta are the only two free agents that could be realistically expected to hold down an everyday shortstop role in 2014.
Napoli batted .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers in his first season with the Red Sox, appearing in 139 games (578 plate appearances) and showing no signs of ill effect from his recent diagnosis of avascular necrosis (AVN) in each of his hips. Napoli has already gone on record as saying he'd like to return to Boston, though he's unlikely to accept the qualifying offer, knowing that the Red Sox (and the rest of the market) value him more highly than that. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projects that he'll sign a three-year, $42MM contract this offseason.
Though he slumped in the postseason, Drew slashed a strong .253/.333/.443 with 13 regular-season home runs. His overall line is boosted by a sizzling second half in which he batted .276/.356/.481 with eight of his 13 homers. UZR/150 pegged his shortstop defense as 6.7 runs above average.
Absent from the list of free agents expected to receive qualifying offers is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Heyman writes that at this time, it's unclear as to whether or not the Red Sox will be comfortable tendering the 29-year-old a one-year, $14.1MM offer. I'd expect that Salty will receive the offer as well, and Tim agreed in his free agent profile of Saltalamacchia, pegging him for four years and $36MM even with draft pick compensation attached.
The Nationals informed the press today that three critically important players had undergone "successful" surgeries, none of which are expected to present obstacles to a normal Spring Training. Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, who was first to report the news on Twitter, rounds up the latest here. Staff ace Stephen Strasburg had bone chips removed from his right elbow; outfielder Bryce Harper had work done to the bursa in his left knee; and first baseman Adam LaRoche had his left elbow cleaned up. Each is reportedly on a four to six week timetable, though as Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington notes, bone chip removal in a throwing elbow typically requires a three to four month window for a full recovery. Elsewhere in baseball's eastern divisions ...
- Stephen Drew of the Red Sox has had one of the most anemic offensive post-seasons ever, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders whether it will impact his free agency. Of course, as Sherman also details, Drew has been outstanding defensively during the Sox' run to the World Series. The expectation, he writes, is that Boston will make Drew a qualifying offer and attempt to keep him around, with the shortstop ultimately pulling down three or even four years at around $12MM a pop.
- Looking at things from the perspectives of the New York clubs, each of whom could have a use for Drew, Sherman says that Drew figures to cost too much for the Mets' liking. For the Yankees, meanwhile, Drew seems more of a second-level possibility whose attractiveness will depend upon who else the Yanks can sign and the status of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
- With managerial openings beginning to be filled, the Orioles are likely to act soon to decide upon a pitching coach, writes Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The leading candidates, according to Encina, include three men with prior experience as pitching coaches (Rich Dubee, Carl Willis, and Dave Wallace) along with Andy Hawkins, the Rangers' bullpen coach.
It was 10 years ago today that the old Yankee Stadium hosted the last World Series game in the building's storied history. It wasn't a memorable one for the Yankees, as they were shut out by Josh Beckett in Game Six of the 2003 World Series and the Marlins clinched the title. Here's the latest news about the Bronx Bombers...
- Damon Oppenheimer will remain as the Yankees' amateur scouting director, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Oppenheimer's job was rumored to be in jeopardy due to a series of less-than-fruitful drafts but the Yankees' highly-regarded 2013 draft class may have saved him. Mark Newman, the club's senior VP of baseball operations, could still be in danger of being fired, Feinsand notes.
- Even if the Yankees spend $300MM on free agents this offseason, ESPN's Mike Petriello (Insider subscription required) doesn't think it will be enough to offset its declining veterans and lack of farm system reinforcements.
- Joba Chamberlain's days as a Yankee are finished, according to Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog in his review of Chamberlain's 2013 season. "I don’t think [the Yankees] will bring him back under any circumstances, not even on a minor league contract," Axisa writes. Chamberlain posted a 4.93 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in 42 relief innings last year and has fallen out of favor with the Yankees.
- Stephen Drew's ability to play both shortstop and third base would fill a valuable need for the Yankees next season, but ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand doesn't think Drew would sign for a team that might not have a regular starting job for him if Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are around. The Bombers also wouldn't want to give up their first round draft pick to sign Drew if the Red Sox make Drew a qualifying offer.
- David Robertson doesn't know if he'll be the Yankees closer next year but the reliever tells MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he's ready for the challenge of taking over from Mariano Rivera. As I wrote in my Offseason Outlook piece about the Yankees, it wouldn't be surprising if New York brings in a veteran with closing experience to at least compete with Robertson for the job.
On Friday it was reported that the Yankees are expected to be serious players for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. While many teams figure to be in the mix, the New York Post's Joel Sherman offered up a look at why the Yankees, specifically, will be motivated to sign Tanaka. Here are some of the highlights from Sherman's latest work...
- The Yankees want to re-energize their fanbase and generate interest in buying tickets again, and adding Tanaka would allow them to do so without shattering the luxury tax threshold, as the posting fee wouldn't go against that figure. Sherman spoke with multiple executives who told him that each team is set to receive about $25MM from national TV revenue, and the Yankees also received a good chunk of money when News Corp. bought 49 percent of the YES Network. As Sherman puts it: "The Yanks have a big pile of newfound money to use lavishly for a posting bid."
- Sherman also lists the Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays as suitors for Tanaka.
- The Yankees may be extra-motivated to sign Tanaka due to the fact that many within the organization believe Hiroki Kuroda is leaning toward returning to Japan to finish his career.
- In a separate piece, Sherman writes that Boston's decision on whether or not to tender qualifying offers to Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will shape the market. Sherman spoke with four Major League executives -- two from the AL and two from the NL -- and asked about the Red Sox quartet's chances at receiving a qualifying offer. All four agreed that Ellsbury will receive one. Both AL execs and one of the NL expected Napoli to receive an offer, while just one of the NL execs thought that Drew and Saltalamacchia would get offers. Sherman offers his own expectation as well, predicting that all four will receive qualifying offers.
The Yankees have begun discussions with manager Joe Girardi as his three-year contract is set to expire, but Mark Gonzales of the Chicago-Tribune reports that the Cubs may be willing to top any offer the Yankees make (subscription required). According to Gonzales, Girardi's annual salary may soar over the $5MM mark, and he could exceed his previous three-year guarantee as well. Here's more out of the AL East...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with nine executives who believe that the Rays will trade David Price this offseason. Sherman points out that Price's $10MM salary could approach $15MM (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $13.1MM), and the Rays have previously dealt Matt Garza and James Shields with two years of team control remaining. Now that they are among the league's best teams each year, the Rays must add top talent via trade instead of at the top of the draft, Sherman adds. The Rangers, Cubs and D-Backs were popular guesses for landing spots among Sherman's panel of nine executives.
- Stephen Drew would love to return to the Red Sox and went so far as to say that he'd like to finish his career in Boston, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Bradford outlines a scenario in which Drew could remain with the Sox, though it would require shifting Xander Bogaerts from shortstop to third base and moving Will Middlebrooks across the diamond from third base to first base.
- The Orioles aren't expected to pursue Mike Morse in free agency this offseason, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko opines that Morse could be a bargain, however, noting his limited leverage coming off a .215/.270/.381 season and pointing to Morse's monster production in 2011 (.303/.360/.550). Kubatko adds that the Nationals tried to trade Morse to the Orioles at last year's Winter Meetings, but the Nats weren't interested in parting with right-hander Jake Arrieta at the time. Arrieta eventually went to the Cubs in this summer's Scott Feldman deal.
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."