Yankees free agent target: Stephen Drew

Rob Carr

The Yankees already have a shortstop, albeit a particularly creaky one. Will they splurge on a more reliable option?

Having the entire left side of your infield in a state of flux without either of the incumbents being gone from the roster is certainly a unique situation, one that the Yankees currently find themselves in. While an arbitrator will help decide the future at third base, the Yankees are all on their own with shortstop. Derek Jeter remains firmly entrenched there but with age and injury concerns it would be risky to continue with 2013's plan of "he'll be fine." Unfortunately, there are scant few desirable options in the free agency pool at short. Stephen Drew would be one of those.

Drew has had the good fortune of having the second best season of his eight-year career in 2013 with the Boston Red Sox, sporting a line of .253/.333/.443, with 13 homers, a 109 wRC+ and 3.4 fWAR. Much of the 31 year-old's value has stemmed from defensive metrics giving him a 5.4 UZR at one of the hardest positions in the field. His career numbers, however, are not as impressive: .264/.329/.435 with a 96 wRC+. Like many others, Drew seems to have been helped by the friendly hitting confines of Fenway Park.

Drew is coming off a $9.5 million, one year contract with the Red Sox, so he will certainly be looking for something more longterm after his good showing this year. What also adds to his market value is the dearth of other free agent options at shortstop. Only Jhonny Peralta and Yunel Escobar are the other free agent shortstops with a wRC+ of 100 or better, and Peralta's coming off of a Biogenesis-related suspension and Escobar has a $5 million team option. So Drew lies atop a less than appealing class.

As noted before, the other issue here for the Yankees is the status of Derek Jeter. If Drew were to be brought in, the logical step would be to install Jeter as the full-time DH, a demotion of which it is unknown that he would accept. Drew does not have the experience or the bat quality to be considered much of an option as a part-time third baseman. There is, of course, the possibility that Yankees' rumored interest in Drew is nothing more than a cursory glance and that they are perfectly fine sending Jeter out as the everyday shortstop and hoping for the best. Risky, but they've done sillier things before.

If the Yankees do want Drew, three years at over $30 million seems the likely starting point. That's a pretty penny for a player with quite a few average seasons under his belt, but he would be an enormous upgrade defensively from Jeter and has never approached the offensive ineptitude of fellow free agent Brendan Ryan. It's anybody's guess what the Yankees infield will look like in 2014, but Stephen Drew would help make it look a lot more appealing than the 2013 version.

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