Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Yankees Rumors: Scott Boras pushes Stephen Drew

The New York Yankees have a gaping hole at shortstop for the first time in 20 years. Super-agent Scott Boras thinks the Yanks (and anyone else who needs a shortstop) must consider Stephen Drew as an option despite his putrid 2014 performance.

Drew, tagged with a $14.1 million qualifying offer after the 2013 season, held out for a contract and ended up missing a good chunk of the first part of the season before re-signing with the Boston Red Sox for a prorated $10 million.

Drew was very good in 2013 helping the Red Sox to a World Series title. He hit .253/.333/.443 with a 109 wRC+ and was very good in the field (6.7 UZR/150). Drew had reason to think that he could get a multiyear deal, but ultimately the qualifying offer (and likely Boras’ greed) did him in.

Drew was never able to get on track offensively in 2014. Missing spring training was detrimental to Drew’s timing and potentially his confidence at the plate as his swoon grew deeper and deeper finishing with a .162/.237/.299 line.

Boras, via George King III of the New York Post, thinks Drew will be able to turn the clock back and regain his slightly above-average shortstop bat, while maintaining a sure glove and arm the position.

“Everybody knows Stephen is a really good player,’’ Boras said. “Among the shortstops available he is clearly the best defensive [player].’’

Boras didn't stop at the fielding.

“It’s no different than when Jayson Werth signed [with the Nationals] and had a rough 300 at-bats,’’ Boras said. “Look at anybody’s career and you can find rough spots.’’

The question is will Boras push for a multiyear deal or try to work the best one-year contract he can gather for his client? Drew, who will be 32 when the season begins, can re-establish a market for himself in 2016 with a 2015 season which resembles his 2013 campaign. This is likely the route he and teams would take.

As King notes, the current shortstop market is not exactly dripping with talent. Hanley Ramirez is going to require a hefty commitment in terms of salary and length of contract and he’s roundly considered a third baseman going forward. Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are available, but each has their issues AND will likely want multiple years in contract terms.

There are some players perceived to be on the trade market who the Yankees could consider, but it seems to me that the Bombers are trying desperately to hold onto prospects and the players “available” (Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin CastroAlexei Ramirez, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings among them) will require more than a midlevel minor leaguer.

Here’s my thought. The Yankees missed out on the only player in the market who I felt was worth an extended deal from this year’s crop of free agents, and that was J.J. Hardy when he signed an extension with the Baltimore Orioles. Ramirez is just not a fit in my view, while Lowrie and Cabrera are every bit as likely to falter as Drew, at a higher cost.

The Yankees could sign Drew for the one season and see where it takes them. I have to believe that he is not as awful as he was in 2014. No one would have suspected he’d fall off a cliff like that, and it is perfectly just to contribute his issues to the missed time in the spring as well as lack of playing time thereafter.

If Drew turns himself around in 2015, the Yankees surely benefit. They could then give him a couple of more seasons in hopes that they generate a body from the farm system to take over long term or decide to move on with someone else if Drew’s costs increase beyond the Yankees desires. If Drew falters, they simply go in another direction.

The Yankees might look at the situation this way. They were not receiving optimal production from Jeter in 2014 (.256/.304/.313, 73 wRC+ and -12.5 UZR/150). Drew is far superior to Jeter in the field and certainly has more upside than Brendan Ryan (who is signed already for 2015) with the bat. Even if Drew hits as good as, or slightly better than Jeter did in 2014, they’ve improved at the position.

Finally, the Yankees hole at shortstop is not central to them reaching the postseason in 2015. Good health across the board and higher salaried players meeting expectations is tantamount to the Yankees success in 2015.

While not many fans will be happy with such a decision, the Yankees find themselves in a position to make Drew their shortstop for 2015 because there isn’t much else out there, and Scott Boras knows how to get it done.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



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