Door open, but Sox can wait on Drew
December, 11, 2013
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Takeaways from the winter meetings, where news of the new sled run at Fenway Park during Frozen Fenway trumped anything that the Red Sox did here Wednesday, which may be why general manager Ben Cherington expects to be on one of the first planes out of town Thursday morning.
Oh, the Sox did have their session Wednesday with agent Scott Boras, an annual exercise during the winter meetings, regardless of whether the team is engaged with a given Boras client at the time. There have been plenty of winters where that has been the case -- Johnny Damon, J.D. Drew, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mark Teixeira, just to name a few -- and that is the case again this go-round, with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew still on the table.
Drew turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Sox last month, and the Boras camp was confident a month ago that he would land a multiyear deal from another team that would trump the short terms the Sox were willing to give. That hasn’t happened yet, and one reason the Red Sox have remained in neutral here this week is their belief that it may not.
The Sox can afford to wait. Finding a backup shortstop should not pose a challenge, even if this stretches deep into January, which it could. Obviously, the Sox don’t envision Drew as a backup; if he’s on board, you can expect a sharing of short and third by three players: Drew, Xander Bogaerts, who can play third and short, and Will Middlebrooks.
If Drew doesn’t sign, the Sox would look to sign your more typical utility player -- Cherington even has mentioned the possibility of re-signing John McDonald, who was not tendered a contract last month. They also have an in-house candidate in Brock Holt.
Boras’s contention that Drew has teams to choose from does not line up with the radio silence that apparently has descended here on that topic, because even the folks who like to pass on the flimsiest rumors have barely floated Drew’s name. The Mets have been mentioned, but they signed outfielder Curtis Granderson and came to terms Wednesday with pitcher Bartolo Colon, and there is considerable doubt they’d be willing to spend the money required to sign Drew.
Beyond that? Anyone’s guess, which is why it remains a possibility that Drew comes back to Boston, although it may take some creativity to fashion a face-saving deal after the qualifying offer was rejected. But the Sox obviously would be a stronger team with Drew on board.
• Cherington said he hopes the club will be able to make the Mike Napoli deal official by the end of the week. They’re in the “i dotting and t’s crossing” stage, Cherington said.
• Matt Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that he was told by the Dodgers that they were not planning to trade Kemp. Don’t be shocked if teams approach the Dodgers in spring if Kemp demonstrates he is recovered from shoulder and ankle surgeries.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsIt seems Matt Kemp is staying with the Dodgers at least for the time being.
• Cherington would not confirm a report in Japanese media that the Red Sox had come to terms with Japanese pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe on a minor-league deal. Watanabe, 37, pitched for the Chiba Lotte Marines, played for Bobby Valentine in Japan, has an exaggerated submarine delivery that makes Chad Bradford look like he’s throwing overhand, and according to his Wikipedia entry, holds the Japanese record for skipping stones. OK, then.
• Cherington said it is unlikely the Sox will take a player in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
• Nick Francona, the former Marine lieutenant and son of Indians manager Terry Francona, recently took a job with the Los Angeles Angels as coordinator, major league player information. It’s an entry-level position that he hopes will lead to bigger and better things in baseball operations.
Francona was a former Marine Corps Ground Intelligence Officer with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. He served as a scout sniper platoon commander in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2011.