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Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  November 10, 2006 09:44 AM

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My colleague, Nick Cafardo, noted in this morning's Globe that the Sox had placed a call to the Dodgers at the July trading deadline inquiring about J.D. Drew, and were told he wasn't available.

Now that Drew has opted out of the last three years and $33 million of his contract with L.A., making him a free agent again, it's worth noting that the Sox have long had interest in Drew. After the 2004 season, the Sox had tried to trade Manny Ramirez to the Mets in a deal that would have included Cliff Floyd, whom they planned to spin off to another team. They then planned to sign Drew as a free agent, and shift Trot Nixon to left field. Instead, the Manny talks fell through and Drew signed a five-year, $55m deal with the Dodgers.

Will the Sox have similar interest in Drew two years later, at the age of 31 (his birthday is Nov. 20)? That's a great question. Two years ago, Drew was coming off a season with the Atlanta Braves in which he was one of the best players in baseball: he hit .305 with 31 home runs, 118 runs scored and 93 RBIs. He also walked 118 times, leading to a fabulous on-base percentage of .436, fourth highest in baseball, with a slugging percentage of .569. He was just one of nine players in baseball with an OPS (combined on-base and slugging) over 1.000 that season. He also had 31 Win Shares, and Bill James, who created that stat, said players with 30 or more Win Shares are MVP caliber players.

But Drew fractured his left wrist in his first season with the Dodgers, in 2005, playing only 72 games, and while he put together a nice season in '06 -- .283, 20 HRs, 100 RBIs in 146 games -- his OBP had dropped to .393, his slugging percentage was .498, and his Win Shares were down to 19. He also was frequently criticized in L.A. for a perceived lack of intensity and for not playing hurt, the same kind of issues that have been raised about Ramirez during his tenure here.

And obviously, if he can walk away from a guaranteed $33 million, Drew expects there's a better deal to be had someplace.

Could it be Boston? Don't rule it out.

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