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Boston Red Sox Hold All the Cards on Stephen Drew

December 27th, 2013 at 11:19 AM
By Ron Juckett

'Stephen Drew, Adam Jones' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license:

In one of the more stunning developments of the Major League Baseball offseason so far, there appears to be no true market for shortstop Stephen Drew.

Somewhere, Drew’s agent Scott Boras is beside himself in disgust. Boras was able to snag life-changing deals for Jacoby Ellsbury with the New York Yankees and Shin-Soo Choo with the Texas Rangers, but not even the New York Mets will nibble at Drew.

Is Drew’s best option to return to the Boston Red Sox for another chance at a big payday in 2015? If he does, will Boston saddle him with a qualifying offer again so the Sox would get a sandwich draft pick? Do the Mets face the situation, lose their second-rounder next year, and give David Wright another veteran to play with in the Mets infield?

There is no question; the draft pick compensation for Drew is the biggest reason why he remains in limbo. Coming off a season where he hit .253, 13 home run while driving in 67 that any new team is going to think twice about forking over a top draft pick for the 30-year-old Drew. The St. Louis Cardinals, for instance, drafted Michael Wacha with the compensation pick received when the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols.

Depending on the health of Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees could have a legitimate use for Drew, but that would mean the Bombers would lose a SECOND compensation pick to the Red Sox. For a team that desperately needs to develop talent, forking over multiple draft picks to overpay essentially for band-aids is silly. (Still highly encouraged, though, by anyone living north of Fairfield County, Connecticut.)

That leaves the Red Sox as his most likely destination. Except, they really do not need him. With Xander Bogaerts ready to play every day, signing Drew would be effectively an insurance policy if Bogaerts is not ready to face major league pitching every day.

If Drew were to stay, the deal would be for no more than one-year and less than the $14.1 million he turned down as the qualifying offer, but more than the $9.5 million Drew played for in 2013. If Boras could get assurances from the Red Sox that they will not make a qualifying offer for 2015, therefore not attaching any compensation for another team signing him, the deal could be done.

However, Boston is under no obligation to give that sort of offer to Drew and Boras.

Keeping Drew would give Boston leeway if they wanted to trade Will Middlebrooks—Bogaerts can play third—but with the Sox looking to develop their own talent, giving up on the 24-year-old Middlebrooks without giving him a full, healthy season does not fit into their thinking.

Boston, as mentioned earlier, are already getting an additional first-round pick from Ellsbury leaving. If Drew goes elsewhere, they will have three of the top 50 picks in next summer’s draft.

For one of the rare times in Boras’ career, the agent has no real leverage and the Sox are quietly enjoying it.

*All statistics and salary information courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, MLB, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Scott Boras, Stephen Drew

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