The Red Sox did not step out of their game plan of signing bridge free agents after adding veteran shortstop Stephen Drew Monday with a one-year, $9.5 million deal.
Drew, the 29-year-old brother of former Sox outfielder J.D. Drew, spent last season with the Diamondbacks and Athletics, appearing in 79 games and batting .223 with a .657 OPS and 7 home runs.
He suffered a serious ankle injury in 2011 on a play at home plate while playing for Arizona, but he drew some harsh remarks from Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick over how long it took to rehab the injury. It was almost 11 months.
Kendrick, in a radio interview in June, thought Drew should have returned much sooner.
“You know, I’m going to be real direct about Stephen. I think Stephen should have been out there playing before now. And, frankly, I for one am disappointed. I’m going to be real candid and say I think Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where Stephen is going to be a year from now than going out and supporting the team that’s paying his salary. All you can do is hope that the player is treating the situation with integrity, and, frankly, we have our concerns,’’ Kendrick said.
Agent Scott Boras responded by telling the Arizona Republic, “I think achieving the success that Mr. Kendrick has in his life that he would respect the commitment and focus and the effort of Stephen Drew, who has demonstrated that on the field when he went all out to score for his team from second base and badly injured his ankle at home.
“Consistent with that effort, it’s pretty clear that a person of that ilk like Stephen Drew would do everything he can by going all out to return.’’
Boras didn’t care for the comment that Drew’s focus was on free agency.
“If you’re talking about what the best thing Stephen can do for himself, that’s to play baseball and play a lot of it,’’ Boras said. “I don’t think he wants anything different. That’s the best thing he can do for Stephen and for his team. Why would he not want to play? The guy’s going to be a free agent.’’
He was traded to the A’s in August. With Drew in the fold pending a physical and highly touted prospect Xander Bogaerts in the wings, Jose Iglesias can’t be too pleased about his future with the Red Sox.
While Iglesias is spending the offseason working with Dustin Pedroia, he no longer projects as Boston’s starting shortstop, not with Drew earning a hefty contract.
Once again, the Sox picked off a free agent coming off a down season, joining Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, but paid him handsomely to rebound.
Drew was once a very productive offensive player. He hit 21 homers in 2008.
Boras is basically giving the Sox an Adrian Beltre pillow-type deal so Drew can re-establish his value. The lefthanded hitter does give Boston some balance in its top-heavy righthanded lineup.
With the signing, the Sox will have paid the Drew family $80 million before the year is over.
The Sox lineup looks a lot different now. As currently constituted, manager John Farrell may be able to type in a lineup that could look like this: Jacoby Ellsbury (center field); Victorino (right field); Pedroia (second base); David Ortiz (designated hitter); Napoli (first base); Will Middlebrooks (third base); Drew (shortstop); Jonny Gomes (left field); and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (catcher).
As for Napoli, a report by Will Carroll of
Sport Illustrated indicated the Sox are trying to reduce the deal from three to two years to protect against the deterioration of a physical situation (believed to be a hip). So far, there’s been no resolution. Napoli’s agent, Brian Geiper, said he wasn’t able to comment on the discussions.
The Sox have kept the door open on Nick Swisher and Adam LaRoche should the Napoli deal fall through.
The Sox have signed catcher David Ross (2 years, $6.2 million),
Gomes (2 years, $10 million), Napoli (3 years, $39 million; unless there’s an adjustment), Victorino (3 years, $39 million), and Ryan Dempster (2 years, $26.5 million).
The Red Sox passed on high-ticket players such as Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, and Josh Hamilton and have stuck to their “B’’ plan.