With third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list for the second time already this season, the Boston Red Sox find themselves even thinner on the left side of the infield than they already were. They stated the season thin after free agent Stephen Drew rejected the $14.1 million qualifying offer and later a two-year deal. Drew is still unsigned, and the infield’s left side has suffered.
Middlebrooks is out with a broken finger and not expected back until — well, the Red Sox do not know when just yet. Even when in the lineup, Middlebrooks has hit a paltry .197/.305/.324 with 2 HR and 9 RBI in 21 games. Right now, rookie Brock Holt is filling in. He has hit .308 in limited time so far, including time during Middlebrooks’s first DL stint. He has driven in four runs in eight games, so he could very well work his way into the lineup more permanently if given the chance. Manager John Farrell, though, cannot continue to wait and see.
At shortstop, Xander Bogaerts has had a decent time at the plate: .262/.366/.376, and 2 HR. However, maintaining the pace of driving in only six runs in 40 games projects to 24 RBI for the season and will not help the Red Sox break the .500 mark to stay and have a chance at repeating as at least division champions.
How has Drew’s named popped into this discussion? On May 18, the Boston Herald‘s John Tomase discussed bringing Drew back to the Red Sox. He reminds us that only the Red Sox can sign Drew without having to give up a draft pick because they made the qualifying offer. Any other team would have to give Boston a first-round or second-round draft pick (depending on the signing team’s draft order) for signing Drew — until June 5. Then, as the draft ensues, any team may sign him free of compensation to the Red Sox.
Right now, what could it hurt for general manager Ben Cherington to make Drew another offer? Drew could play shortstop and move Bogaerts to third, where he played some last year. Drew would stabilize the left side defensively, and after some time in the Minors, he could bring his bat to Fenway Park. Drew is not a high-average man, but he does have some power and does drive in runs. He hit .252 with 13 HR and 67 RBI in 124 games for the Red Sox last year.
Then, when Middlebrooks proves himself healthy, he and Bogaerts would compete for third base. The competition will make one or both play harder and perform more. One of them might then find himself watching from either the dugout or from Pawtucket.
According to Tomase, Cherington and Drew have had no communication, but many of Drew’s former teammates would like to have him back. In his May 18 article, Tomase briefly describes both statements:
“As of yesterday [May 17], the Red Sox had not reached out to Drew and they’ve given no indication that they plan to do so. But a growing number of players and others in the organization would welcome back the man they call ‘Dirt,’ because the American League East is there for the taking, and the Red Sox are the team with the most talent to take it.”
At this point, it could not hurt to at least talk with Drew. Unfortunately, that means going through agent Scott Boras, who seems to care more for his own cut of his clients’ paychecks than he does his clients and their careers. Then again, that cut of Drew’s paycheck is now zero, so even Boras has something to talk about. The Red Sox should act fast, though, before June 5 arrives. Then Boras will regain some negotiating power from any number of interested teams — assuming there are any.
TOP PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Allison, via Wikimedia Commons
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