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The Crying Game 2: The Plight of Stephen Drew

Explaining the absence of a market for Stephen Drew and what should happen in the coming weeks.

Just think about his children
Just think about his children
Gail Oskin

Given the fact that in just 124 games he had the eighth-best fWAR and tenth-best rWAR amongst shortstops in 2013, the market--or more appropriately, the lack thereof--for Stephen Drew has been surprisingly static. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training over the next ten days (the Diamondbacks battery reported today), the fact that there appear to be no teams even remotely close to signing Stephen Drew surely has left the youngest of the Drew Boys wondering if the order of Major League General Managers could pick him from a line-up consisting of Stephen Dorff, Steven Weber, Steven Seagal, and the silver screen's Tamara Drewe. [At least four would choose the titular lead of the latter, Gemma Arterton, but that's because Terry Ryan, Kevin Towers, Dan Jennings, and Dave Dombrowski are all gender-blind.]

There are a handful of reasons why the market for Drew has yet to shift into gear.

The first of these reasons is likely Stephen Drew's [repeatedly] stated desire for a multi-year deal. With Scott Boras calling the shots on Drew's behalf, it seems rather unlikely that Drew will sign for just the one-year deal to which his various timid suitors seem willing to ink him.

The reason for this hesitancy is intrinsically linked to the second of the aforementioned reasons for the Drew market to have yet to leave the gates: Stephen Drew's injury history. Not unlike his notoriously injury-prone brother, J.D., Stephen's herculean battles against a musculoskeletal system that would turn any person into a Calvinist have been relatively unsuccessful these past three years. Between 2011 and 2012, he stepped onto the grass just 165 times, missing the last half of 2011 to a broken ankle that refused to heal until halfway through the 2012 campaign. To add injury to injury, a concussion and a hamstring injury conspired to limit him to 124 games in 2013. With an oft-injured brother blazing the path ahead of him and an average of 96 games played over the past three years, teams are understandably wary to commit multiple years to Drew the Younger.

The third reason is that the Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Drew, meaning that any team without a protected draft pick forfeits their first round draft pick per the terms of the year-old Collective Bargaining Agreement. This means that if you are not the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Mariners, Phillies, Rockies, Blue Jays (twice over), or Mets--or the Red Sox, of course, who wouldn't be penalized for eventually re-signing one of their own players--signing Stephen Drew will cost you your first round draft pick. With 19 prospective landing spots facing the penalty of a lost first-round pick for signing the injury-prone shortstop at his asking price of a multi-year contract, it is hardly shocking that teams aren't trampling over one another to get at the Pride of Valdosta.

Once the fact that the White Sox, Cubs, Phillies, and Rockies are set at short for the time being and that the signing of Drew wouldn't make sense for the Astros or Marlins because they have no need to spend the money this year on Drew or the Mariners because they have a ML-ready internal option in Brad Miller (not that this has stopped Jack Zduriencik this offseason...), you are looking at just the Twins, Mets, and Blue Jays--who would play Drew at second--as potential landing spots of the teams who wouldn't be penalized for signing Drew. It's hard to imagine the Twins deciding to add another multi-year deal this offseason. Their game plan would seem to be to have enough available money to patch any holes via free agency when their wave of highly touted prospects starts to hit Target Field in an offseason or two. This leaves just the Mets and Blue Jays of the teams with protected picks who would be (and have been) linked to Drew.

When the teams that would not make sense as a landing spot for Drew of the other 19 teams get ruled out, the only possibilities to add to the mix would be the Giants (Drew is at least a marginal upgrade from Brandon Crawford), Padres (again, Drew is a marginal upgrade over Everth Cabrera), Pirates, Reds, Yankees, and of course the Red Sox. With Jordy Mercer holding his own in 2013 and Alen Hanson waiting in the wings, the Pirates probably would not want to part with their first round pick. The Reds haven't done much of anything this offseason, and it's hard to figure out why they would start with Stephen Drew when they could give one last season to Zack Cozart at league minimum. With viable and comparable internal options and the continued possession of their first-round draft picks, it is difficult to envision a scenario in which Drew would make sense in San Diego or San Francisco. This leaves just four teams--the Mets, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox--to duke it out over signing of Stephen Drew.

With the Mets being nowhere near contention (at least realistically), it has been reported in multiple places, namely here:

and here:

that the Mets aren't really looking to sign Drew, this leaves just the three teams in the AL East as likely homes for the Georgian pivot man.

The final reason, as Jon Morosi tweeted today, why the signing of Stephen Drew has not happened yet may be related to this:

With the 23-year-old defector Diaz gumming up the works for the next two weeks, it isn't hard to imagine Drew not finding out where he'll be hanging his hat for the next year[-plus, if Scott Boras has anything to say about it] until Spring Training is already in full gear. With reports on Diaz's glove being relatively mixed and the possibility that he might need to move to the other side of second base, it is at least a little head-scratching to the casual observer to wonder why Diaz is holding things up, if that is in fact the case.

One could certainly argue that Drew might add enough value to the thin Yankees' infield that they should do whatever they have to in the coming weeks to get him in pinstripes if they are serious about competing in the stacked AL East, but columnists--or at least columnist--in Boston think Drew's return to Boston is all but certain. Toronto is likely no better than the third-most likely team to sign him despite the fact that they would not forfeit a pick for Drew.

Regardless, it seems certain that Drew will spend the coming weeks shriveled up and sobbing in the shower trying to make sense of how his world got all topsy-turvy. Ben Cherington, think of his children.