Last time we checked up on Stephen Drew, the Red Sox and Mets were the last two teams in on the shortstop. Since then, the Red Sox have told their star prospect Xander Bogaerts to stop working on third base and focus on shortstop for 2014. One source told Marc Carig on Monday that the Mets were still having conversations on Drew, but a team official with the Mets said “there has not been much dialogue at all”.
So just to recap, the market for Drew looks pretty awful, as no one wants to give up a draft pick, no one has the money, or no one has a position for Drew. Yet the Yankees have all three, but we haven’t heard a peep from them. Drew seems like the perfect fit for a team that still has $20 million left until they reach their 2013 starting payroll, no first round picks to give up, and a 40 year old shortstop coming off a lost season that has retirement plans. Maybe they’re worried about Drew’s lack of time at third base, but even that doesn’t make sense considering the projected third baseman, Kelly Johnson, has a grand total of 12 starts at the hot corner.
Meanwhile, Drew’s bat works perfectly with this lineup. He’s a left-handed hitter that goes to all fields, but has good distance when he pulls the ball. In fact, if Drew played at Yankee Stadium in 2013, he would have probably hit 15 home runs at home.
This kind of power and decent on base percentage combination combined with adequate defense might not put Drew as the top third baseman in the league, but he would send Brian Roberts to the bench, with Johnson moving to second. More importantly, over the next couple of years, with Jeter gone, the other choices will be a bidding war on the injury-prone Hanley Ramirez, or going after one of Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, or Jed Lowrie for 2015.
Barring a few extensions, next offseason’s market projects to be filled with shortstops, but Stephen Drew might still make the most sense for the Yankees. Ramirez’ price could be astronomical with another good and healthy season, Lowrie’s and Cabrera’s left-handed swings are iffy (.728 and .744 career OPS’s), and J.J. Hardy hasn’t been above league average with his OPS since 2011. Drew’s bat has a lot of breakout potential now that he’s shown he can stay healthy, and moving him from a left-handed killing park like Fenway to Yankee Stadium would be a major factor in his offense.
The biggest benefit to signing Drew over the other four players is that he’s desperate. He needs a team, and he’d probably settle for a short term deal worth a bargain average annual salary. The other shortstops on the 2014-2015 market are around the same age, and will likely command much longer contracts. Paying a middle infielder so much over so long is something the Yankees have shown they’re unwilling to do with Robinson Cano. Drew on a three year deal would end with his age 33 season, avoiding the rapidly approaching declining years of most shortstops.