Why Stephen Drew Is The Answer At Shortstop…At Least In 2015
By Billy Brost
I know, you just read that headline and said “Ugh, really?” Believe me, it doesn’t make my heart swell with pride to have to come to this conclusion. But, given the fact that J.J. Hardy never reached the market, the Chicago Cubs are going to want a king’s ransom for either one of their shortstops, and both Elvis Andrus and Troy Tulowitzki are not only flawed in their respective games, but have a ton of money attached to each of them. The smart, savvy move is to bring Stephen Drew back on a one-year deal.
As you finished reading that, you’re saying, “What about Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie?” Neither one of them are going to sign on a one-year deal. A single season deal benefits both Drew and the Yankees. It gives the player an opportunity to get his numbers back up to a marketable standard, and it allows the Yankees to have a one-season stopgap until the shortstop they really want to pursue hits the open market: Ian Desmond (h/t, Ricky Keeler).
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The Yankees aren’t going to get an All-Star in Stephen Drew. What they are going to get is a solid defensive player who is an upgrade over the retired Derek Jeter, and with a full spring training in my opinion, could repeat his offensive output similar to that of his one full season in Boston (.253/13/67). It’s more than serviceable for a one-year player, and at the price of $8-9 million, the Yankees would be fools to not consider it.
While Cabrera and Lowrie are better hitters, Cabrera’s glove is something to be desired, and Lowrie has had a difficult time staying completely healthy throughout his career to warrant a long-term deal. The wild card is Korean shortstop Jeong-ho Kang, a 27-year-old thumper who could post and become available. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) hits like it’s the Pacific Coast League, so scouts are unsure how his bat would translate to the big league level. At least with Drew, the Yankees know what they have and what he’s capable of.
Ian Desmond, currently of the Washington Nationals, hits the open market next winter, if and only if, the Nats choose to pay him big money to stay in the nation’s capital. The Nats also have several players who will all be hitting the market about the same time, and it is doubtful ownership can keep them all. Over the past three years, Desmond has averaged 23 home runs, 81 RBI, and a .276 batting average. His average continues to go down as his power numbers go up. Is he worth waiting another year for?
If the only options the Yankees have include giving up most of their farm system, taking on another $100 mil+ contract, signing free agents whose games have issues either with the bat, the glove, or the trainer’s room, then the best bet for the Yankees, is to sign Stephen Drew. If he wants a second year, make it an option based on performance, and still go after Desmond. At that point, Brendan Ryan is off the books and Drew could transition into the Yankees’ utility middle infielder. Just a thought…