The latest maneuver to jumpstart the struggling offense of the Boston Red Sox has come in the form of a familiar face. General manager Ben Cherington re-signed shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year deal on Tuesday in the wake of yet another injury to third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Xander Bogaerts has had his hiccups manning the shortstop position as well, and will now be a strong candidate to see a hefty amount of at-bats at third base instead. Drew’s defense was overlooked last year and was a big reason why Boston was such a strong team, especially in the postseason.
The unspoken reason why Drew has not been signed up to this point is because he rejected a $14 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox after last season in hopes of landing a big multi-year contract on the open market after his first productive healthy campaign in three years. That contract he sought never came, largely because teams did not want to give up a first-round draft pick to sign him, a system that is sure to be revisited in coming years.
Drew started off very slow last year, but recovered to post one of the better batting lines for a shortstop across baseball. He hit .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBIs, also working 54 walks and clocking 29 doubles and eight triples. His addition will definitely bolster the bottom of the order, which has mostly not produced this season for the Red Sox.
Specifically, the Drew signing does not bode well for Middlebrooks’ future with the team. He has failed to stay healthy and is already on the disabled list for the second time this year. When he has been in the lineup, he continues to flail at breaking balls out of the strike zone and has hit just .197 with a pair of homers. He has continued to regress despite his bevy of injuries, and has yet to prove he can be a consistent and reliable offensive force. No one questions his power, but he is susceptible to prolonged slumps due to his inability to use the whole field and lay off pitches in the dirt. He is also already 25, and Boston values Bogaerts higher than almost any other prospect in baseball. The Red Sox also have third base prospect Garin Cecchini raking in Triple-A Pawtucket, a guy who projects to make an impact in the big leagues as soon as this year. Cecchini is a very patient hitter, which is a staple for Red Sox hitters. All these factors leave Middlebrooks’ status up in the air.
The Red Sox re-signing Stephen Drew is a subtle move that could have a substantial impact on the roster. It could really help ignite the potent bat of Xander Bogaerts, now that he does not have to focus as much energy on defense. It will also give the Sox the same stable force on both sides of the ball that they had last year with Drew. He is a perfect fit in the lineup due to his patience and unselfish attitude. Boston hit a home run with this move.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Boston Red Sox