The Royals traded Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers in December 2010. As a part of that deal, Alcides Escobar was sent to Kansas City and became their starting shortstop.
Escobar is often viewed as a great defender who is learning his way offensively at the big league level. The Royals have upgraded in the outfield and at second base this season, leaving a lot of focus on Escobar and third baseman Mike Moustakas to realize their potential.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors compiled a list of shortstops, based on projections from FanGraphs, that Stephen Drew would be considered a clear upgrade over. Dierkes points out that Drew is ranked high enough to be considered an upgrade over just six shortstops in the big leagues, with Escobar being one of them.
Drew would provide an offensive upgrade without sacrificing a lot of defense for the Royals. He would bring additional veteran leadership to the team. He is a player with playoff experience and is well-known for his scrappy playing style, which earned him the nickname "Dirt."
Signing Drew would send a message that the Royals have given up on the development of Escobar. Once viewed as a player who would evolve into an offensive threat, Escobar has many critics wondering if he will ever find his way at the plate.
Again, this is a player tied to draft-pick compensation that would require the Royals to sacrifice their first-round pick in order to sign him. In addition, the money it would take to attract Drew would be substantially more than the $3 million owed to Escobar this season.
Ultimately, even Dierkes notes that the Royals have little interest in Drew: "The Royals have spent big on free agents Omar Infante and Jason Vargas this winter, but don't seem interested in upgrading on Escobar even if they could afford Drew."
The Royals seem willing to upgrade while remaining smart about it. Drew is likely out of their price range and not enough of an upgrade to warrant a serious discussion.