Sunday, December 16, 2012
Stark: Sox like Drew as stopgap SS option
It's been a slow weekend, news-wise, for the Red Sox, but we found this tweet by ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark interesting:
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has maintained throughout the offseason that shortstop isn't at the top of his to-do list, but also said the job will not just be handed to all-glove, no-bat Jose Iglesias. The 22-year-old Iglesias hit just .118 in 68 at-bats for the Red Sox in 2012 and will certainly be given an opportunity to earn the starting shortstop gig in spring training. However, we expect the Red Sox to bring in a veteran as well in case Iglesias doesn't show enough progress at the plate.
"We're just trying to be opportunistic on that," Cherington said. "We feel Jose is ready to compete for the job. We're not ready to give it to him."
Recently, Iglesias was in Arizona training with Red Sox second baseman (and future double play partner?) Dustin Pedroia.
Like Iglesias, free agent Stephen Drew -- younger brother of former Sox outfielder J.D. -- hasn't exactly filled up the offensive stat sheet recently. Between the D-Backs and A's, he hit .223 with 7 homers in 79 games of an injury-shortened season. The last time the 29-year-old Drew played a full seasons was 2010, when he hit 15 homers and sported a .278 batting average, an .810 OPS and a career-high 3.7 WAR. He suffered a horrific ankle injury that cut short his 2011 season and ate up most of the first half of 2012 as well.
Former major league general manager and current ESPN analyst Jim Bowden recently called Drew the best shortstop on the market (it's a pretty thin market, as you can see HERE) and most underrated free agent available. Here's an excerpt from his take on Drew:
He has the offensive capability for a .330 OBP with 30 doubles and 15 home runs annually. Defensively, he possesses above-average range to both sides with a strong arm. But he’s had to overcome numerous injuries in his career, the worst being a severely broken ankle back in July 2011 that took more than a year to heal. Drew didn’t come back from injury as quick as the Diamondbacks hoped and was sent to Oakland at midseason, where he played an integral part in helping the A’s leapfrog the Texas Rangers for the AL West title. Drew’s offense and defense looked like it was all coming back by late September, and a big 2013 could be in store. Drew is quiet and thus seen by many as aloof and selfish. But watch him play day in and day out, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most underrated shortstops in the majors.
Drew made $7.75 million last season and is a client of Scott Boras, so chances are he won't be signing soon. The A's were thought to be the frontrunners to retain his services. He hit .250 for Oakland with 5 homers in 39 games and a .708 OPS.
One thing the Red Sox have going for them is that Drew might be willing to take a let-me-prove-I've-still-got-it one-year deal in the wake of his injury-filled 2011 and 2012 seasons. That said, though, if he thinks the Red Sox job is going to be Iglesias' to lose, he might not want to come to Boston over a destination where he'd be handed the starter's spot (in Oakland, for example).
Twenty-year-old Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts probably isn't major league ready, but moved to the top of the SoxProspects.com's rankings with an outstanding season between Single-A and Double-A and could reach the majors in 2014.
Your turn: What's your take on Drew? Should the Red Sox go after this guy or are do you feel strongly that Iglesias is the shortstop of the present (and future?)? Vote in the poll above and share your thoughts in the comments section.