Thursday, September 3, 2015

Would Yankees consider Stephen Drew for 2016?

The New York Yankees showed the upmost in faith in Stephen Drew, mostly because of his glove, but also for that occasional pop he might provide. His batting average languished below the Mendoza-line from the end of the season’s first game until Aug. 30 after two months of dismal offensive production to start the season.

A three-month steady climb, culminated by a huge road trip in which he went 9-for-20 with two doubles and two home runs, has the Yankees reaping consistent benefits from Drew offensively, which brings a big question to light. Will they try to bring Drew back in 2016 for a third go-around with the club?

Let me begin by saying that I’m not lobbying for the Yankees to re-sign Drew next season. I’m thrilled to see him hit because it helps the team, but I firmly believe the Yankees should be happy with what they received for this season and be willing to move on. I’m not convinced Drew has found his 2013 form, nor am I going to assume this streak will go on for the remainder of the season. While he’s had a nice three-month stretch (see tweet below), he also looked pathetic at the plate in the first two months of this season and all of 2014.

Likewise, a three-month stretch should not convince the Yankees to do anything with Drew beyond this season. But, if he was able to continue a solid display offensively and maintain his fielding prowess through the remainder of the regular season, it might be difficult for the Yankees to overlook him this offseason as a role player.

The Yanks took a chance with outfielder Chris Young as their fourth outfielder after one solid month last season, why wouldn’t they consider Drew after sticking with him for most of this season and feel even more at ease if he was to stay productive through September and potentially October? It worked with Young, and maybe it would with Drew.

If Drew is willing to take another one-year deal (Scott Boras is his agent so it wouldn’t be shocking if he lands something better provided this run continues), he could fill a valuable role for the Yankees in 2016. Even if the Yankees decide to hand over the keys to the keystone to Rob Refsnyder next season, Drew could be a helpful component for the club as a potential platoon partner (Refsnyder would still get a bulk of the playing time), a fallback option if Refsnyder proves he’s not ready and as a utility infielder if the rookie flourishes.

There are of course other in-house options for this type of player. The Yankees already have the ability to pick up a $2 million team option for utility infielder Brendan Ryan (he also has a player option he can exercise if he chooses for $1 million) for next season. The Yanks also have Jose Pirela looking for another shot at least as a bench player in 2016.

Both Ryan and Pirela would cost significantly less than Drew who is making $5 million this season despite coming off a complete disaster in 2014. Drew has displayed strong fielding abilities at second, after years of doing the same at shortstop. Boras could probably fetch a few more million for him in this inflated market by simply showing teams his improvement from June 1 on.

We know a few things. First, the Yankees were willing to stick with Drew for the entire season, hoping this type of boom would come as he trudged through one of the longest offensive slumps experienced in the sport. Second, they had a player in Refsnyder waiting in the wings and passed, seemingly looking to allow him to grow in the minors without pressure. And finally, the Yankees love veterans in bench/utility roles.

Drew could excel as that type of player allowing the Yankees to finally give Refsnyder extended time as they continue to formulate a roster of youth and experience knowing there is a backup plan. Don’t bet against Drew in pinstripes in 2016.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports 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.