Thursday, May 22, 2014

Drew Returns

Drew rejoins a Red Sox team that needs him now more than ever (Boston Herald)
Seven months after rejecting Boston's qualifying offer, Stephen Drew is a Red Sock once again.

Drew, who was reportedly eyeing a multi-year deal, instead settled for a one-year, $10.2 million contract that nearly matches the one he signed with Boston a year and a half ago.

Much has changed since then. The Red Sox bounced back from a 93-loss season to win the World Series, and Drew re-established himself as one of baseball's better shortstops after struggling with injuries in 2011 and 2012. Though Drew struggled mightily in the postseason, John Farrell stuck with him because of his plus defense and was rewarded with terrific glovework from J.D. Drew's little brother.

Less than two weeks after helping Boston win its third championship of the millennium, Drew was a free agent. The Red Sox, with Xander Bogaerts lined up to inherit his job, did not make much of an effort to bring Drew back and seemed ready to move on without him in 2014.

But there was a surprising lack of interest in Drew, largely because any team that signed him would have to forfeit a draft pick to Boston. So even though several teams (the Mets, Yankees, Tigers specifically) had a clear need at shortstop, they entered the season without even making Drew so much as an offer. It appeared that he would have to wait until after the MLB Amateur Draft in early June to land a deal.

That allowed the Sox to swoop in and sign the 31 year-old two weeks before the draft. All it took was a pro-rated version of qualifying offer, which Drew wished he'd accepted in the first place as he began the season without a home. It seems strange to me that he would sign now, when he probably could have fetched more money (and another year, probably) had Scott Boras made him wait just two more weeks. Not only did the Red Sox get a great deal, but they also kept him away from teams that needed him more than they did.

But make no mistake; Boston needs Drew. He joins a team that is sinking fast and growing desperate for someone to light a spark under them. They need someone who can stretch out the lineup and play solid defense, and Drew does both of those things.

He isn't going save the Red Sox season by himself, but he does make them better. His  return bumps Bogaerts to third base, which upgrades the defense at short and improves the offense at third by taking at-bats away from replacement level-Brock Holt (and probably Will Middlebrooks when he returns from the DL). Drew's going to need some time in the minors to face live pitching, but still has enough time to add two or three wins to the Red Sox by himself, assuming he plays at the level he did last year.

That's not going to matter much if they keep wallowing below .500, but it's a start.

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