The Boston Red Sox are betting on a bounce-back season from shortstop Stephen Drew, who they signed for one year at $9.5 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It's a lot of money for a stopgap option.
Drew is coming off two straight injury-shortened seasons after suffering a serious ankle injury in 2011. Last year, he posted the worst OPS of his career at .657 in time split between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics.
If he posts similar numbers next season, the deal will be a bust for Boston. However, there's reason to believe he will rebound. Drew is just two years removed from a season with 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases, and a far more reasonable .810 OPS.
Those are the type of numbers the Red Sox are hoping he will provide while they wait for Jose Iglesias or Xander Bogaerts to prove they are ready to take the shortstop job. Iglesias must improve at the plate and Bogaerts needs more seasoning in the minors.
So while the price tag for Drew is probably higher than many people expected given his recent struggles, it's worth the risk for a Red Sox team struggling to keep pace with their AL East rivals.
One underlying factor working in Boston's favor is knowing it will be getting maximum effort from Drew. The 29-year-old first-round pick is hoping to reestablish his worth before entering the market again next offseason.
Furthermore, the natural talent Drew showed off during his early seasons doesn't disappear. Having to battle through injuries has definitely played a role in his decreased production, but getting an entire offseason to rest should help alleviate those issues.
All that said, it's still important to keep expectations within reason. Drew is the type of player that is capable of chipping in across the board, but isn't going to smack a lot of home runs or swipe a lot of bases.
Red Sox Nation should expect him to hit around .260 with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases. He should also provide solid shortstop defense after having a down season in the field as well, again likely due to the ankle injury.
Anything more than those numbers would be gravy and anything less would prove it was a bad investment. The chances of a bounce back are good, though, assuming Drew is able to avoid any setbacks and can stay healthy for the entire season.
Although the reasons for pessimism are understandable, signing Drew should actually work out well for the Red Sox. It was definitely worth the short-term risk.