Why Red Sox Are Last, Best Option for Shortstop Stephen Drew

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJanuary 2, 2014

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 30:  Stephen Drew #7 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after hitting a home run in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Six of the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park on October 30, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It's a new year and there are still multiple free agents left on MLB's free-agent market. One of those free agents is Stephen Drew.

Drew has had a lot of rumors surrounding him this offseason, but according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, the market continues to move slowly for Drew: "Every day that passes without news on the Drew front seems to indicate that the market has dried up for one of the most productive all-around shortstops in the major leagues."

For Drew and his agent Scott Boras, once another free-agent shortstop (Jhonny Peralta) signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the Cardinals, the dollars were supposed to roll in. But they haven't.

Instead, Drew is sitting at home waiting for a contract offer in hopes of avoiding last offseason's fate of another Boras client, Kyle Lohse.

For Boston, re-signing Drew is smart for multiple reasons. Here's how his numbers look compared to other MLB shortstops:

Stephen Drew's 2013 Shortstop Statistical Rankings
.253 Batting Average11th.984 Fielding Pct.3rd
.333 On-Base Pct.3rd8 Errors2nd
13 Home Runs8th4.18 Range Factor11th
67 RBI5th

Drew isn't going to "wow" you with his offensive or defensive capabilities. But the one thing he does provide is stability at the bottom of the lineup and at shortstop.

So, what makes the Red Sox the last and best option for Drew?


Potential Suitors Are Happy With Current Options

Drew would be an upgrade for teams like the Mets, Pirates, Twins and Yankees. However, the contract costs and loss of a first-round draft pick (except Mets and Twins) are keeping teams happy with what they have already.

According to an interview with John McDonald and Rob Bradford on the Hot Stove Show on WEEI.comMets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi said the Mets are happy with Tejada to start on Opening Day:

He's a young player. As Johnny can tell you, a lot of young players who get to play at the big league level early in their career, a lot of them don't realize how hard it is to play every day. A lot of them don't realize what it takes to play every day. I think in Ruben's case, he got a lot early in his career and I think he's starting to realize that he has to work a lot harder than he has in the past, and he has. To his credit, he really has. But as a young player, they get to the big leagues, some things happen for them and they forget how tough it is to stay there. I think he's at that stage in his career. I think next year he's going to be a better player than he was this previous year.

MacPherson's article reiterated that point as well:

...all of the would-be Drew suitors on the Scott Boras Rolodex seem content to go with what they have in-house—the Mets with Ruben Tejeda, the Pirates with Jordy Mercer, the Twins with Pedro Florimon, the Yankees with Derek Jeter—rather than make a multiyear commitment and give up a draft pick.

Drew may be a better option, but so much better as to make teams want to give up on their young players (sans the Yankees).


Why Red Sox Are Best Option

Xander Bogaerts is waiting in the wings to be the every-day shortstop, but Will Middlebrooks has also struggled at third base. Last year, Middlebrooks batted .227/.271/.425 with 17 home runs and 49 RBI.

MacPherson added that without Drew, the Red Sox would be in a deep hole should Bogaerts or Middlebrooks falter this year:

In the absence of Drew, should either Bogaerts or Middlebrooks falter in the season’s first half—or, worse, suffer a long-term injury — the Red Sox would have to ask (Jonathan) Herrera, (Brock) Holt or (Brandon) Snyder to play every day at third base or shortstop. That’s far from ideal for a team that expects to contend for an American League East title.

The Red Sox are set up for success and in better position than any other team involved in rumors to make a run at the World Series in 2014.

If Drew wants to win a World Series in the next few years, his best bet would be re-signing with the Red Sox. Of course, he can sign a one-year deal and try his luck on next year's market—although that's not likely since he turned down a qualifying offer.

Unfortunately for Drew, the Red Sox don't feel like they absolutely need him next year to make a run at the World Series. Bogaerts is more than capable of filling the position, and the Red Sox seem to be content with waiting out Drew.

Maybe the Red Sox wait until his price or the number of years on the contract come down. But for Boston, the feeling is that they don't need Drew as much as Drew needs them. There don't seem to be any other options out there.

And if Drew and Boras aren't careful, Drew could be forced into a one-year deal worth half of what the qualifying offer was worth.