Stephen Drew only a minor fix for Red Sox

May, 20, 2014
May 20
4:11
PM ET
Stephen Drew has agreed to a deal with the Red Sox for the remainder of the season. Drew was a useful player for Boston last season, but he's hardly the big star to warrant all that offseason attention about his contract.

Baseball-Reference valued Drew at 3.1 WAR in 2013, which is historically about his annual value, excepting the 2012 season when he didn't hit well after coming off a gruesome ankle injury while sliding into home plate in July 2011.

With the Red Sox, he hit right-handed pitching very well (.284/.377/.498), struggled against lefties (.196/.246/.340) and played a solid if unspectacular defense. His platoon splits haven't always been so extreme, but he has hit just .204 against lefties since 2011, so it's possible the large split is now a reflection of his current abilities. He did make several nice plays in the field in the postseason, leading to an exaggerated opinion of his defense; he's good, not great, in the field.

Once he gets his reps in (he'll probably play seven to 10 games in the minors), Drew will play shortstop, with rookie Xander Bogaerts moving to third base. It's true that the Red Sox had received little production from third base, as their third basemen have hit a combined .194/.320/.273 this season. With Will Middlebrooks landing on the disabled list a couple of days ago -- for the second time this season -- with a fractured finger, and the offense struggling as a whole, there was some sense of desperation for the Red Sox to make a move rather than rely on Brock Holt to play third base.

But a lack of production at third base isn't the major reason Boston has declined from 5.27 runs per game in 2013 to 4.07. Dustin Pedroia's on-base percentage and slugging are both at career lows, Mike Napoli's power is down a bit, A.J. Pierzynski has a poor .281 OBP and the outfield has combined to hit .224 (worst in the majors) with a .298 OBP. Only the Twins and Cubs have a lower wOBA from their outfielders.

Drew will help in one regard: The Red Sox are 10-19 in games started by right-handed pitchers (after going 65-43 a year ago).

OK, so Drew roughly makes the Red Sox a win or two better over the rest of the season. In the mediocre AL East, that may prove to be a significant number. Much will be made about Drew turning down the Red Sox's qualifying offer of $14 million, not getting the big multiyear offer he expected or was told by his agent Scott Boras to expect, and settling for that same prorated $14 million this season. Boras misjudged this one and should own up to that but will undoubtedly have someone to blame for misreading the market. In the end, Drew didn't get the big money because he's not a big star, has had injuries and is 31. Live and learn. Drew has already made $30 million in his career, so I'm pretty sure he'll still be fine.

So it's a safe signing for Boston. Bogaerts was inconsistent on defense at shortstop, but this move doesn't permanently move him to third base. He can always move back to shortstop next year and should still be viewed as the long-term answer at shortstop.

But Drew doesn't fix the Red Sox. They need their outfielders to start hitting. They need Clay Buchholz to figure it out and Jake Peavy to pitch better. It's a reminder of how much went exactly right for Boston last year, when veterans played at the top of their abilities and stayed healthy.

The AL East remains wide open. In fact, despite their 20-23 record, the Red Sox may still be the favorites to win the division.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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