Despite coming off a solid 2013 season there has been a very slow developing market for Stephen Drew for the second offseason in a row. Numerous outlets have been suggesting all winter that he’s going to end up returning to the Boston Red Sox, but that speculation has only increased as he remains available. Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily is the latest to renew the idea, suggesting that Drew’s newfound willingness to play multiple positions might just make him more valuable:
Last winter, the Yankees wanted to sign Stephen Drew, but were told he would only play shortstop. So he ended up in Boston. But this week Scott Boras dropped several hints that Drew would be willing to play other positions, which might make him more attractive to both the Red Sox and Yankees: Boston might be able to use him at short, third, and even first base, and the Yankees could play him at second and third and have him as insurance if Derek Jeter has any physical problems. In fact, Drew’s value may be greater if he will play several positions.
Gammons goes on to note that there are still questions to answer, such as whether the team believes that Drew would be willing to take on a utility role given how hard he worked this past season.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox are committing to giving Xander Bogaerts the starting shortstop role and there is internal hope that Will Middlebrooks can be the answer at third base. Jonathan Herrera is likely the favorite for first crack at the utility role if the season were to begin today. Working Drew into the mix as a utility option might not sound so bad if it weren’t for the price tag that signing him might require. Drew earned $9.5 Million last season and turned down the team’s qualifying offer following the season (which would have been worth $14.1 Million). With a limited market and facing the possibility of having to settle for a one year deal it’s tough to see how Drew would have much leverage in negotiations, but it’s reasonable to expect that Boras will still get him a one year deal in the neighborhood of $10-12 Million. That would make a steep price tag for a utility infielder, even one who could play multiple times a week.
Another concern to keep in mind is Boston’s position against the luxury tax threshold. The team has four players with uncertain 2014 salaries (following their agreement with Burke Badenhop last night) and factoring in what that group projects to earn the team will be just a few hundred thousand dollars shy of the luxury tax limit. Signing Drew, even at a bargain rate of $5-6 Million, will likely push the team over that threshold – causing them to pay extra in tax penalties.