Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yankees re-sign Stephen Drew creating multiple roster scenarios

The New York Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with Stephen Drew, which carries incentives that could tack on an additional $1-2 million. The agreement was first tweeted by’s Jon Heyman Tuesday night. The contract will not be finalized until Drew passes a physical. Drew, who turns 32 in March, would be the Yankees starting second baseman if the season was to begin this morning.

What does this mean for the Yankees’ roster? Well, it’s created multiple options from which the Yankees can operate from this point through the season.

The best case scenario is that Drew is good enough to cash in on the incentives. The worst case scenario is that Drew flails like last season (51 OPS+) and the Yankees are slow to pull him from the role just as they did with Brian Roberts in 2014. That’s the hinge to this being a good or bad signing; whether the Yankees are going to be ready to move on quickly if necessary.

The middle ground here is that Drew is steady in the field and not a drain at the plate, allowing Rob Refsnyder to get even more acquainted with second base at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre over the first half of the season. If the Yankees are clicking on all cylinders and the Drew is not an issue, no changes are necessary.

However, if the Yankees are not primed for a run at that point, Refsnyder looks better at the keystone and his bat is as impressive as it’s been, they have a decent chance of shipping (or ditching) Drew for an alternative part on the roster and allowing Refsnyder a half season to get acclimated to the big leagues. If Refsnyder is struggling or deemed not ready, then they could insert Pirela. Either way it would afford the Yankees the chance to see either player for half a season's worth of games and thus make a determination as to whether they are the future at second base.

There are several other instances that developed from this signing. One, they have insurance for Didi Gregorius should he have a poor start to his New York tenure. If that were to happen, they could shift Drew to his natural position and bring up Refsnyder or use Jose Pirela at second.

If interested, the Yankees can now include Gregorius in a deal should they have to for Cole Hamels as has been bandied about of late. Again, this would force Drew to short and reinvigorate the Refsnyder/Pirela spring training competition I was excited to witness. The Yankees would however be in a similar situation for 2016, requiring a new shortstop, but for Hamels I’d bet they’d roll with it.

Lastly, the Yankees could split at-bats with a straight platoon of the left-handed hitting Drew beginning with Pirela, who is already on the 40-man roster and bats right-handed. That could happen as the team breaks camp or as the season wears on especially if it seems the Yankees are not postseason bound.

For $5 million I cannot argue with the Yankees’ decision making process here. It’s minimal in terms of finances and term. They can cut bait quickly and not worry about the money they invested. I’m disappointed in the fact that they don’t feel Refsnyder is ready, but I’m holding out hope that this move precedes another. If it’s to land Hamels for example, at the expense of Gregorius, then it’s well worth it.

Further, who knows what other instances could occur? Maybe Drew has a “normal” season after participating fully in spring training. He was a valuable resource in Boston in 2013 (111 OPS+). Perhaps someone gets hurt and having Drew, someone able to play multiple infield positions, is a better plug than Ryan, again allowing Pirela and/or Refsnynder reps in New York.

As I mentioned earlier I was enamored by the prospective Refsnyder/Pirela battle in Tampa, purely from the standpoint that giving young players a fair chance to compete is fine in my view when the team is not geared to make a deep postseason run. I wonder if the Yankees are any better than an 85-win team right now. It clearly clouded my vision of signing a veteran second baseman.

As such, I tweeted when it was reported early Tuesday that the Yankees were checking in on Drew and other second baseman that I couldn’t see a single instance in which a Drew signing made sense, especially at his reported $9/10 million desires. Well, I admit I was wrong (though half the cost makes the signing easier to swallow). After sifting through the various situations explained above, there are plenty of reasons to take the chance. Again, the key is that they waste no time showing Drew the door if he’s resembles the player he was in 2014.

Once again, the Yankees have made a move which could facilitate others, or ease the development of their young players without bogging themselves down to a horrible contract.

What are your thoughts? Is Drew a terrible signing, or one which can help the Yankees either directly with positive performance or indirectly by allowing development time to Refsnyder and Pirela? Let me know in the comments below.

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. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.


  1. First, I'm a drop dead Yankee fan. Now, to the bad part. 200+ million dollars and they are by far the worst team in the AL East. If they are going to field this bunch of old, washed up, DL proned crew, why not play the kids. FIVE million dollars for a player, and I use that term loosely, that can't hit his weight. I'd like to see the playoffs again before I die.

    1. Thanks for reading and the comment Jim. I've been saying much of the same for quite a while. I think if the Yankees get something out of Drew, in particular, it lessens the strain on the kids early on in the season. By many accounts Refsnyder is not completely ready in the field and I'm not sure Pirela is a defensive wizard himself. Let Ref get more reps in Triple-A and if Drew stinks, the Yanks have to be ready to hit the kill switch quickly. Overall, they've done a nice job of trying to get younger without trading away their own promising youth.

  2. Drew SUCKS S___U_____C_____K______S!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. It's safe to say he did in 2014. I'm not sure he is that bad. I guess we'll see soon enough. Thanks for the comment.

    2. Christopher, He is nod BAD. He is terrible!!! There is no reason to think hi is not.

    3. It's hard for me to disregard what he's done prior to 2014, when he participated fully in spring training and was playing each day. Even last year once he got back from holding out, he didn't play everyday. His timing was way off. I'm looking at the chance that he can get back to what he was before last season with a complete spring training. Hey, maybe he stinks and they move on quickly. That's still the key here; that the Yankees don't waste time pulling the plug. Thanks for the comment.

    4. And I'm not suggesting he is going to be great either. Certainly not near Robinson Cano, but he can be better than Brian Roberts for sure. As a one-year holdover to allow Refsnyder to get better in the field, it's worth a flyer and that's all this is.

    5. OK Will see. What do you think about Mocada? Is this signing need for theYankees?
      I'm the Yankees fan since 1992.and i'm from Russia. St.Petersburg.

    6. Thanks Christopher.You're a nice guy.My currently time is 11-30pm.And i have to go.Hope i'll see you tomorrow.