The Boston Red Sox and Stephen Drew have agreed to a one year contract for $10.2 million dollars. The contract is equivalent to the prorated amount on the $14.1 million qualifying offer the Red Sox gave Drew over the winter. After what is expected to be about a week long stint in the minors to get back into form, Drew will rejoin the team with whom he won a World Series last season. With Boston making a move to solidify their roster, the New York Yankees need to decide what they will do next to stay competitive.
For Boston, signing Drew makes sense for a multitude of reasons. He is above average as a shortstop both offensively and defensively, so he will provide an immediate upgrade over rookie and top prospect Xander Bogaerts. The Red Sox will likely shift Bogaerts to third, to take over for the struggling Will Middlebrooks, who was also placed on the disabled list Monday with a finger injury. With one signing, Boston upgraded two positions and did not have to completely displace the young Bogaerts, who has played well.
The Yankees are now left to play catch-up, both on the field and in the headlines. New York remains ahead of Boston in the standings, currently in the second wild card position, but they have heavy roster problems at the moment. Their rotation had been decimated by injuries, and that issue is now spilling over to their lineup Carlos Beltran, who went to the disabled list with an elbow injury, still faces the possibility of surgery that could keep him out for an extended period. They also have to worry about whether or not Yangervis Solarte can keep up his outstanding pace all year long, and hope that Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts still have anything left to give.
Going forward, there are two roads the Yankees can walk down. The first is the patient approach, to hold onto their top prospects, work with what they have this year, and hope for the best. If the team can stay afloat in the interim, they might be able to sail forward when Beltran, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia return from injuries. They could also count on a boost from some of their minor leaguers, but their top prospects in Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams have both struggled so far this year at Double-A Trenton.
The more aggressive, George Steinbrenner-esque move would be to revamp the roster through trades. Sanchez and Williams, as well as lower level minor leaguers such as one of last year’s first round picks Ian Clarkin, could fetch talent from other teams that could give the Yankees one more all-in chance before Jeter retires. A few big names that could be available are David Price, Chase Headley, Bronson Arroyo, and Cliff Lee, although Lee is now on the disabled list with elbow trouble.
Even though the Red Sox have severely underperformed this year, they have to be expected to trend upward going forward, particularly once Drew joins the team. Drew will now be free to sign a long term deal with the Red Sox or any other team this off-season, without having draft pick compensation attached to him. The Yankees have a lot more to worry about for the time being, with the Red Sox right behind them and the entire American League East tightly bunched. They should keep in mind the state of their roster as a whole, which has several holes in it and may not be cured by a single player, no matter how big a name. Their next month of play could determine how it all shakes out.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball