BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Stephen Drew #14 of the New York Yankees stretches with teammate Jacoby Ellsbury before a game with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 1, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. Drew was recently traded to the Yankees
By Brendan Kuty
Is Stephen Drew the best option for theYankees to replace Derek Jeter in 2015?
He might be. Really.
OK, I know, the free-agent market is cluttered with shortstops. You’ve got J.J. Hardy possibly Baltimore, Hanley Ramirez likely asking for more money than the Dodgers are willing to give him and Asdrubal Cabrera probably leaving the Nationals for a place he can play shortstop every day.
And now, a look at the potential trade market.
The Troy Tulowitzki talk is always going to be there — the Rockies would likely unload him at the right price, and Tulowitzki has called taking over for his idol Jeter “a dream” scenario – but it’s an improbable move for a couple of reasons: The Yankees probably don’t have the prospects to deal to Colorado, and they might not want to trade for an oft-injured shortstop still due more than $100 million.
Then there’s Jimmy Rollins, playing for a Phillies team looking to shed contracts and improve for 2015; the Diamondbacks’ Didi Gregorios, on whom the Yankees have kept tabs all year; and the Rangers’ Elvus Andrews, who is young but also owed lots of money, to name a few.
Add all that to the ghastly offensive numbers Drew put up this season. While the 31-year-old has never been known for his bat, Drew was almost unwatchable.
Drew, who rejected a Red Sox qualifying offer in 2013, sat out the first three months of the season, waiting for the June draft to pass so teams wouldn’t have to give up a top pick to sign him. Then he hit .176 in 145 at-bats with the Red Sox before the Yankees traded for him, hoping his early season struggles were a result of his absence. But things never got better. Drew hit .150 in 155 at-bats while learning a new position, second base, and didn’t even get regular playing time toward season’s end, though he had told NJ.com he was becoming more comfortable at the position.
And though Drew’s downfalls contributed to the yet another season in which the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs — that’s two in a row — they might help the Yankees at the bargaining table.
The Yankees will at least speak with Drew. They know his agent, Scott Boras, far too well not to at least hear from him why Drew should remain in pinstripes. And, what do you know, Boras told the New York Post recently that Drew is at least the best defensive shortstop on the market. Boras might not be that far off with the assessment — Drew is ranked the No. 3 best defensive shortstop in free agency, according to Fan Graphs.
And when they speak with Drew, if they haven’t already, they’ll remind him his bat wasn’t quite as potent in years past, and that he might not get much money or many years anywhere he looks.
That could be in the Yankees’ favor. If Drew wants to take a relatively cheap one-term deal to boost his value again, he becomes much more attractive. That would give the Yankees a superb defender bent on redeeming his offensive worth and also give them the financial flexibility to perhaps spend elsewhere, though owner Hal Steinbrenner sounded much more inclined to coast through the offseason plugging holes and short and in the rotation and then possibly pounding in the trade market midseason.
And in that scenario, Drew becomes significantly more attractive than he was just last week. Perhaps more attractive than Hardy, a 32-year-old looking for a multiyear deal whose back problems resurfaced late in the year and Ramirez, who might soon need to move to third to compensate for his defensive shortcomings.