After more than a month and a half of concerns over the left side of the infield, the Red Sox finally ended that uncertainty today, signing Stephen Drew to a 1 year contract worth around $10MM. John Farrell has announced that Drew will jump into action as the Red Sox’ starting shortstop and Xander Bogaerts will move to third base. However, that doesn’t leave an obvious place for one of the more promising young players on the team in Will Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks is currently on the disabled list and could be out for a significant time period with a fractured finger. Once he returns, however, there’s really no place for him either in Boston or in Pawtucket. Drew and Bogaerts will hold down the fort in Boston and, barring a three-man platoon like the Red Sox used towards the end of last season, the Red Sox will continue to use Jonathan Herrera as the utility infielder. In Pawtucket too, Middlebrooks is blocked at third base by up-and-coming prospect Garin Cecchini.
The acquisition of Drew almost signals that the Red Sox have given up on Middlebrooks, who is off to a slow start (.197/.305/.324 in 78 plate appearances) in his third MLB season. There’s no place for him on the roster and a trade would likely return little to nothing of value.
With this potentially a goodbye to Middlebrooks as a starter for the Red Sox, it could bring an end to the sad story of his career. A highly-touted prospect who got off to an excellent start at the Major League level, Middlebrooks was never able to become an MLB regular after breaking his wrist and ending his 2012 season. He always had plenty of power, but he has struck out too much and is yet to become an everyday Major League player. This is not the end of his career by any margin, but it seems likely that his career as a starter for the Boston Red Sox ends today with the signing of Stephen Drew.