Free Agent Forecast: Stephen Drew
BACKGROUNDShortstops with as much pop as Stephen Drew are hard to find. When healthy, Drew can easily put up a .260, 15 HR, 70 RBI season -- while also playing dominant defense. Drew was mainly the starting shortstop in 2013 for the Red Sox, but with Xander Bogaerts officially a big leaguer, his days in Boston appear to be over. While there are some starting shortstop jobs out there for the taking, Drew will have to decide whether he would accept a utility role for a contender or start for a team looking to rebuild. He played 124 games with Boston last season and was productive, hitting 13 home runs and driving in 67 runs. It's yet to be seen whether or not he can play third or second base consistently, but shortstops can usually adjust to both fairly easily.
The Yankees' deal with Brendan Ryan was just made official -- a two-year deal with a mutual option for a third. I still think the Yankees could find a place for Drew, especially with uncertainty surrounding both Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, and it's been reported that the Yanks are still pursuing him. Between Derek Jeter and Ryan, I think the Yankees are content with their shortstops, but Drew could find plenty of work in the Bronx in a utility role. He's a left-handed hitter with power and would be right at home with the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium. At 30-years-old, and coming off a good season, I expect Drew to look for a starting role off the bat.
Since the Red Sox gave Drew a qualifying offer, any team that signs him must forfeit a draft pick. It hurts his case, but Drew will certainly find a home. I actually think that he will either end up with the Yankees or the Dodgers. Depending on what happens with A-Rod, I think Drew may look at New York as an opportunity to both play and win. The Dodgers, on the other hand, would look at Drew as a starting third baseman with Juan Uribe on the free-agent market.
Look for Drew to get a deal similar to the one Jhonny Peralta got from the Cardinals but for slightly less money and potentially three years instead of four.