The Boston Red Sox signed shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year deal on Tuesday, as reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Drew will reportedly receive $10.2 million, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, which is a step down from the $14.1 million he stood to earn from the qualifying offer he turned down last year.
The move is clearly an attempt to offset the loss of third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who went down with a non-displaced fracture in his right index finger on Saturday and will miss at least the next couple of weeks as he spends time on the 15-day disabled list. As our own Wick Terrell wrote on Sunday, Drew would be a viable replacement in Middlebrooks' absence, and it appears that general manager Ben Cherington agreed.
The move has drawn mixed reactions from around the blogosphere, with some praising the Sox's quick move to solve the depth issues on the left side of the infield, while others believe bringing Drew on board simply won't solve any problems. One of those people is CBS Boston's Michael Hurley, who wrote about the signing on Tuesday:
That would be the same Stephen Drew who was essentially left on a Duck Boat after the World Series parade and sent out to sea, never to return. He’s the same Stephen Drew whose presence at the plate inspired audible groans throughout Fenway Park for the entire month of October, when he probably wouldn’t have been able to get a hit even if MLB allowed coaches to pitch like they do in the lowest levels of Little League. And he’s the same Stephen Drew who was deemed less valuable than a simple first-round draft pick by every single team in baseball and therefore remains unemployed here on May 20.
That Stephen Drew is going to fly into Fenway and save the season? Please.
That's not quite the attitude of Boston.com's Adam Kaufman, who believes Drew represents an upgrade over the alternative (Middlebrooks), even if he doesn't give the Sox quite what they're looking for:
Drew isn’t necessarily the answer, but he does represent an improvement. What matters next is whether the Red Sox want to make strides toward winning now and defending their title, or continue getting the 21-year-old Bogaerts more comfortable at short, evaluating the 25-year-old Middlebrooks whenever he’s healthy again, and hoping the rest of the ship turns around.
Our Chris Cotillo provided his own reaction to the signing:
It's easy to wonder whether Brock Holt, who was called up to replace Middlebrooks on the roster, is the short-term answer Boston needs at 3B considering the Red Sox are off to a similarly disappointing 20-22 start. While Xander Bogaerts has played a satisfactory SS in his first full season on the job, the conspicuous presence of Stephen Drew in free agent limbo has repeatedly cast a shadow over the left side of Boston's infield, and the coincidental timing of Middlebrooks' injury and the upcoming MLB draft throws an additional wrench in the scenario.
Something to keep in mind, which Kaufaman menitoned briefly in his article, is that Drew is an excellent hitter against right-handed pitching (.284/.377/.498 last year), while the Sox have struggled against righties with a .240/.321/.365 slash line this season, including Middlebrooks' .143 mark against them. Perhaps a platoon could be in order when Middlebrooks returns, given his .318 average against left-handers.
As Heyman reports, Drew could be ready for action in around two weeks (or a little as 10 days), pushing Bogaerts to third base. Either way, the Red Sox will need more than just a good showing from Drew, with many players in the starting lineup are struggling as it is. The next month will be a good indication as to whether the Sox can really call themselves candidates to repeat, or if the team's 20-23 start is the real indication of how the rest of the season is likely to play out.