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.