With the team sitting three games under .500 at 20-23, but still just three games back in a wide-open AL East, this is a move that not only shores up the left side of the infield but could also give the offense a much-needed spark.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Drew will be paid a prorated portion of the original $14.1 million qualifying offer that he turned down at the start of the offseason.
Stephen drew signs back with red. Sox. Believed he's getting pro-rated portion og $14M qualifying fugure, so estimated $10M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) May 20, 2014
Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe and Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal added some more details on Drew's return.
Farrell says Drew will need 10-12 days in minors.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 20, 2014
Farrell: Drew physical scheduled for Wednesday. Needs about 25 at-bats to get ready.— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) May 20, 2014
A reunion remained a possibility throughout the winter, even after Drew declined the qualifying offer, but when no teams were willing to give up the draft pick compensation it would have cost to sign him, the offseason came and went and Drew was left without a team.
The general consensus throughout the league was that teams would wait until after the June amateur draft before making a move to sign Drew, when it would not longer cost a draft pick to add him, but the Red Sox pounced before that opportunity rolled around.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks landed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right index finger at the end of last week, and while that likely helped force the Red Sox hand here, the left side of the infield was already a mess prior to the injury.
Offensive production has been the big issue at third base, as four different players have combined to post a .576 OPS at the position which ranks 26th in the league.
The aforementioned Middlebrooks has earned the start in 21 of the team's 43 games, and was hitting just .197/.305/.324 with two home runs and nine RBI over 71 at-bats.
Brock Holt was called up when Middlebrooks landed on the DL, and he's held his own in limited action this year with a .267/.343/.333 slash line in 30 at-bats, but he's better suited as a utility infielder than a team's primary third baseman.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has certainly been up to the challenge offensively, especially considering he is still just 21 years old, currently hitting .269/.369/.379 with 11 extra-base hits in 145 at-bats.
However, he is very much still a work in progress defensively, and while he has committed just four errors, his limited range has made him a below-average shortstop.
|Xander Bogaerts||4 (.974)||-2||-0.4||-0.5||3.64|
|Stephen Drew||8 (.984)||-2||5.3||6.7||4.18|
When it was first announced that Middlebrooks was going on the disabled list, general manager Ben Cherington balked at the idea of moving Bogaerts away from shortstop.
"We don't have any reason to believe he can't play short," Cherington told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. "You've got to keep going in the right direction, but he looks, to me anyway, a little more comfortable out there making the routine plays. And that's all he needs to do."
However, the addition of Drew has seemingly changed that stance, as it looks like Bogaerts will be headed back to the hot corner where he saw the bulk of his playing time during the playoffs last season. That according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Confirmed: The plan is, in fact, for Stephen Drew to play shortstop. It follows that Xander Bogaerts would move to third base.— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) May 20, 2014
In Drew, the Red Sox are getting a 31-year-old, proven big-league shortstop who turned in one of his better all-around seasons last year in helping the team win the World Series.
His 3.1 WAR last season, the second-highest mark of his career, ranked fifth among AL shortstops and 10th overall at the position. He proved to be a relative bargain after signing a one-year, $9.5 million deal in the offseason.
He's not an elite hitter by any means, but behind Jed Lowrie, Jhonny Peralta and J.J. Hardy, he may have been the most productive shortstop in the American League last year.
|Stat||2013||SS Rank (AL)||SS Rank (MLB)|
Moving Bogaerts back to third base for the time being may hurt his development defensively, but considering he was never viewed as an elite defender to begin with, it may not be as big of a deal as some may think.
Cherington also talked to Lauber about how defensive expectations can differ from player to player based on other aspects of their game, including what they bring to the table offensively.
Keep in mind, guys that play short in the big leagues, there's still a range of defensive ability, and the acceptance of that range is going to be relative to other contributions. Even though Xander hasn't really caught fire yet, he's still one of the better offensive performers in the league at that position. So if you're doing that, you don't have to be Omar Vizquel in order to be helping.
In other words, if Bogaerts can simply hone his defensive skills as a whole while playing third base while turning himself into a league-average shortstop down the line, his offensive abilities could more than offset any defensive shortcomings he may still have.
What grade would you give the Red Sox signing of Stephen Drew?
Adding Drew makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox.
Giving him $10 million for the remainder of the season is a low-risk move, and pulling the trigger on a deal likely saved them some money had they fallen into a bidding war after the draft.
Time will tell if this is enough to get the Red Sox back on track or just the first in a number of moves they may be forced to make this season, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.