Now we know what the J.D. Drew fiasco was all about this winter.
“We were looking for some job security," Drew told the Los Angeles Times yesterday.
Oh, job security. Of course, aren’t we all. After all, who out there doesn’t have the freedom to spit at $33 million and somehow con someone else into giving you more than twice that?
With the Dodgers in Fort Myers yesterday, it gave the Los Angeles media a chance to catch up with Grady Little’s prodigal son, who shunned the remainder of his contract in order to take a sweetheart deal with the Red Sox. By all accounts, Boston was the only team really offering Drew any deal better than the $33 million he had on the table out in LA, which to this day leaves some baffled as to why Theo Epstein decided an oft-injured player like Drew was worth $70 million. That brought up tampering whispers from Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who dropped the issue late last year.
But all Drew wanted was job security, you know. Man can’t live on $33 million alone.
"I know where the Dodgers are heading, and I didn't want to become trade bait at some point down the road,” Drew said. “Those were things that were very important to me, and it just didn't seem like they wanted to pursue any of those avenues….So they moved on and I had to kind of do the same thing."
Colletti, however, cried foul at that assessment.
"J.D. had a limited no-trade clause. The question was never asked of me, 'Would you give him a complete no-trade clause?'" he told the Times. "That was never a question that was ever asked. So it was never a point of negotiations."
Job security. How bogus. Obviously, Drew left because agent Scott Boras knew, somehow, that he could sucker some other team into more money, a franchise that happened to be the Red Sox. This, again, is the same team that wouldn’t deal a few lower-level prospects for Bobby Abreu last summer mostly based on the pricey deal due to the outfielder. But that was the philosophy of last summer, and as we now know, that changes more than gas prices.
Go with the kids.
Go with high-priced free agents.
Love this year’s shortstop.
Had enough of this year’s shortstop.
That’s job security? Anyone who works for this club, outside a select few, should have his bags packed at all times.
Perhaps no high-priced free agent has arrived in Boston amid less optimism since Matt Young, Jack Clark, or Jose Offerman. Plenty have come to town with big expectations, only to perform well short of them (Edgar Renteria rings a bell), but it’s difficult to remember a deal so questioned in Boston more than the Drew deal.
It’s more than just a fear of when his next injury might come. Drew is a sign of all that is wrong in the game of baseball economics, players given the duplicitous ability to back out on deals worth $33 million for a better buck.
Tampering charges? They weren’t filed. And Colletti seems to have calmed down a bit on his claims.
"I'd rather not tell you my sense of whether or not he had already decided to go," he told the Times’s Kevin Baxter. "I know very clearly that I wasn't going to increase the salary or increase the duration [of the contract] because he had the right to leave."
One other interesting item to note on the matter. As Baxter points out, “The oft-injured outfielder was batting only .274 with 12 home runs and 72 runs batted in before an Aug. 25 game in Arizona. But he homered twice in that game, starting a tear during which he batted .317 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in his final 32 games. He finished with team highs in homers (20) and RBIs (100) and played in a career-best 146 games, making him one of the more attractive buys in a thin free-agent market.”
Convenient? Yes, Drew’s hot second half helped the Dodgers eke into the playoffs, but it also screams “contract year” in a year that Drew is insisting it wasn’t until Boras promised him “job security.”
Drew has that now, along with twice as much cash. And he’s about to be thrown into the fire of a much more rabid market than he leisured in last year.