The Drew signing will allow the Red Sox one more year to develop slick-fielding youngsterJose Iglesias. Drew's deal is pending a physical.
The Red Sox this winter have shown a willingness to pay high salaries in their free-agent deals so long as the length is reasonable. The one-year deal fits since Boston is well-stocked at the minor-league level with top prospect Xander Bogaerts as well as Iglesias.
This offseason had been going pretty well. The Sox picked up reasonably good players on short-term, reasonably priced (all things being relative) deals in Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. They brought back David Ortiz and slightly overpaid for a backup catcher (David Ross) and top-notch reliever (Koji Uehara), who could be solid trade bait once they are floundering in July.
But what happened this last week?
Ben Cherington brought in Ryan Dempster, a starting pitcher who, while durable, has never proven that he can handle a competitive division. His short time in Texas was a disaster, and there's no reason to expect Fenway to treat him differently.
Mike Napoli's deal looks like it might be on the rocks, thanks to some issues that may have come up in his physical.
Meanwhile, the Indians were able to exchange one year of Shin-Soo Choo for a great young starter in Trevor Bauer, and the Mets turned RA Dickey (pending an extension) into a solid haul headed by top catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud. Jacoby Ellsbury remains in Boston.
And now this. Nine and a half million dollars for a shortstop who never fulfilled his promise and is going into his age 30 season. Stephen Drew had three solid-to-good seasons for Arizona from 2008 to 2010, but since then has been unhealthy and ineffective. In 2011, he logged 86 games and was good for a 1.7 WAR; in 2012, he was good for 79 games and minus-0.6 WAR in time split between Arizona and Oakland.
To justify his price, Drew will have to be nearly 2 WAR better than Jose Iglesias. Make no mistake, Iglesias was not good last year. He produced 0.2 WAR (sticking with the same measurement, although I have my issues with WAR's effectiveness) in 25 games. Even playing at that same poor level, he'd be 1.2 WAR over a projected 150 games. Could we reasonable expect Drew to go over 3.0 when he's done so just once in his career, 2010, at age 27 (aka, most players' peak)? Drew is unlikely to stay healthy or produce at a level Cherington his hoping for due to his age and recent history; this Drew is not even as good as his brother, who was widely hated in the Fens. A better gamble would have been to hope Iglesias can figure it out at the plate and pass on Drew.
Meanwhile, the Sox' payroll continues to climb, and now looks likely to reach $150 million after arbitration is settled. That's an expensive 4th place squad.
Herald | Sox pin future on prospects | Globe | Report: Stephen Drew agrees to deal with Red Sox | CSNNE | Report: Red Sox agree to one-year deal with Stephen Drew | ESPNBoston | Red Sox to sign Stephen Drew