Can the Red Sox bring back Stephen Drew?

By Ryan Hannable

As much of New England spent this past week digging out from the snowstorm that hit the region, believe it or not spring training is just a little over a month away with the first full workout set for Feb. 20. While much of the 2014 roster is set, there is still one looming question surrounding the club — will Stephen Drew be re-signed?

This is a question which has been out there since Drew rejected the Red Sox’ $14.1 million qualifying offer back in November. Drew and agent Scott Boras have reportedly been seeking a multi-year offer, but with the free agent still out there it would seem the offers have been few and far between. As for potential teams needing a shortstop, both the Yankees and Mets have publicly said they are comfortable with where they are at. Manager John Farrell has a very good relationship with the 30-year-old, whose outstanding defense kept him in the lineup this past postseason even though he hit just .114. But with Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks already signed on the left side of the infield, can the Red Sox bring Drew back?

There is no question bringing Drew back would provide tremendous depth to the Red Sox infield, but can they they bring him back with the current roster? As it stands now the Red Sox have five major league ready infielders on their 40-man roster in Middlebroooks, Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, and newly acquired utility man Jonathan Herrera. Even though Daniel Nava and Mike Carp are outfielders, they also serve as serviceable backup first basemen. With those five infielders, along with five outfielders, two catchers and David Ortiz, the Red Sox have 13 position players. With the standard formula of having 13 position players and 12 pitchers, the Red Sox 25-man roster is full. If the Sox were to bring back Drew, they would have little choice but to trade Middlebrooks due to their current roster.

While Bogaerts split his time between shortstop and third base (six and six) in starts during the regular season, Bogaerts is still considered a shortstop, which the coaching staff has confirmed. If the Red Sox were to bring Drew back, either Bogaerts would have to shift to third base, or he, Middlebrooks and Drew would have to share the left side of the infield. With Bogaerts and Middlebrooks in the very beginning of their careers, is sharing time the right thing to do for their development? For Bogaerts specifically, if the Red Sox wanted him to play everyday and traded Middlebrooks, is playing third base full-time the right thing for his development as a future shortstop? For Drew, an eight-year veteran, is he going to want to share time with a 21-year-old in his first full season in the majors?

Much of the decision surrounding Drew depends on the Red Sox and how they view Middlebrooks and the development of Bogaerts. It would seem the Red Sox have still remained high on Middlebrooks despite his sophomore slump of 2013 and really like Bogaerts and his potential super star status. This means there simply isn’t enough roster space for the Red Sox to be able to bring their 2013 shortstop back. If the club decided they wanted to try and move Middlebrooks and shift Bogaerts to third base, then it’s a different story, but as it stands right now count on Drew not returning to the Red Sox for 2014 unless things change and a deal for Middlebrooks is made.

If you were the Red Sox what would you do? Do you believe in an infield of Middlebrooks at third base and Bogaerts at shortstop? Share your answer in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.

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5 Comments

Filed under MLB, Red Sox

5 responses to “Can the Red Sox bring back Stephen Drew?

  1. F. Thompson

    WMB could start the year at Pawtucket.

  2. Giraud

    As Chad Finn says, the Sox win either way. With Drew, a sure-handed veteran plays that important position or, If Drew gets his multi-year deal elsewhere, the Sox get another high draft pick (35??) and an additional $1.5+M in slot money to extend their signing power in this deeper draft.

    With Drew, the Sox do NOT have to trade Middlebrooks. As has been demonstrated in discussions throughout the offseason, because Drew is such a terrible hitter against lefties, and both Herrera and Holt are also lefties, keeping WMB who mashes lefties is imperative for a successful left side offense, one in which all three (Bogaerts, Middlebrooks and Drew) get a healthy 400+AB’s. When Drew’s second pillow contract is over, the Sox are still set at 3B and SS for 2015.

    Some Downside: Baseball Prospectus recently concurred that shortstop Xander Bogaerts is our #1 prospect with enormous potential, which he showed in the 2013 WS; and stated that Will Middlebrooks projects to be an above average defender at 3B with 30HR power, as the 3B of the future; and coming back off his broken wrist and rib and damaged back, could do
    so in 2014. With this talent apparantly ready to shine, supported by a veteran and champion team, why spend $12M, trade pitching depth to afford it, lose a high draft pick and the $1.5M slot money, sacrifice Xander’s launch at SS and WMB’s rebound at 3B and Jon Herrera’s versatile UIF glove, speed and righty-bashing bat to sign a good but not great SS in Drew, one who is represented by screw-you Boras. IMO it is time to take a chance on the kids, maximize the value of this exceptional farm system.

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  5. BensBro

    Drew is better off as draft pick compensation. If Ben was building a bridge(a winning one at that) Bogaerts and Middlebrooks need to start and play regularly. Herrera was brought in to compensate for the solid right handeness of our starters, we have no reason to bring back Drew. Napoli was the most important, though not essential, and he is back for two more years.

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