I know mostly everyone reading already vomited after glancing at the title, but if Stephen Drew has a strong September, the possibility exists of him returning again in 2016 if he agrees to another 1-year contract.
Drew has been a huge target of hate from Yankees fans, but the reality is he has put together a quality second half of the season thus far and there are worse things in the world than a No. 9 hitter who hits 20 home runs and plays solid defense.
This is not just about Drew's insanely hot recent stretch. He has actually been a quality player since June 1st, hitting .251/.323/.483 with 12 home runs and a 120 wRC+ since thene. Over the last two weeks, Drew's slash line is an incredible .351/.429/.568. If Drew has a good September that would be four consecutive months of good baseball from him, which after his first two months and 2014 season nobody would have ever thought possible. Another factor in Drew possibly returning in 2016 is not just that he has played well for a long stretch now, it's the lack of options available this offseason. Here's a look at the 2016 free agent 2B list:
Mike Aviles (35) Emilio Bonifacio (31) Asdrubal Cabrera (30) Stephen Drew (33) Jonathan Herrera (31) Maicer Izturis (35) – $3MM club option with a $1MM buyout Kelly Johnson (34) Howie Kendrick (32) Daniel Murphy (31) Steve Pearce (33) Cliff Pennington (32) Sean Rodriguez (31) Skip Schumaker (36) – $2.5MM club option with a $250K buyout Chase Utley (37) – $15MM vesting option with a $2MM buyout Ben Zobrist (35)
It's safe to say you're not finding much quality on this list. Howie Kendrick and Ben Zobrist are both very good players who are having excellent seasons, but their ages and how much money they will get may scare the cost conscious Yankees off. Obviously the Yankees should be in on both of those guys, but there should be a limit. Drew is one year older than Kendrick, but we're not talking about giving him a ton of money on a long term contract. It would only be another one-year deal for Drew.
Kendrick has hit .296/.341.418 with a .331 wOBA and a 112 wRC+, and Zobrist has hit .291/.378/.473 with a .367 wOBA and a 137 wRC+. I was advocating Zobrist at the trade deadline --and I was right there with how he has been playing for the Royals -- but signing him to a new contract at age 35 is a different story, although he is showing zero signs of slowing down offensively.
Drew is probably the next best player on the list other than Kendrick and Zobrist. Daniel Murphy is not a Yankees kind of player because he doesn't walk, hit for power, or play defense. I actually think they kind of see Rob Refsynder as a Murphy type player, which is why they're not really fond of him. It seems more likely that Refsnyder is traded than starting at second for the Yankees next year.
The other option is a trade if a quality second baseman is available, and the Yankees have some good starting pitching and catcher depth to trade from. Who knows who will be available though.
Bringing back Drew next year should not be the first option. The Yankees should check in on what Kendrick and Zobrist will cost and explore trade options. However, circling back to Drew like they did late last offseason may not be a bad option if they cannot find a good value in either the free agent or trade market. Whether it's a strong possibility or not, the possibility exists that we get more Drew next year the longer he keeps this up. That's a pretty crazy story given how his Yankees career started.