confirmed: Stephen Drew to Yankees— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 31, 2014
I believe the return for the Sox is Kelly Johnson— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 31, 2014
The Red Sox and Yankees had not traded with each other since a mostly irrelevant deal involving Mike Stanley back in 1997. (I say "mostly irrelevant" because the Red Sox used the prospect to help acquired Pedro Martinez from the Expos.) This deal should not have as long-reaching implications.
Boston sent Stephen Drew to the Yankees in exchange for Kelly Johnson, a move that will help both teams over the next couple months. The Yankees will seemingly be able to install Drew at second base and the Red Sox will be able to put Xander Bogaerts back at shortstop, where Drew had taken over after being signed in late May, and also put Will Middlebrooks at third base.
Drew is a gamble for the Yankees as he has been a career shortstop and has struggled to a .176/.255/.328 triple slash in 39 games with four homers and a 56 wRC+, but it should also be evident that he is not that bad a player. Just a year ago, he was terrific on a World Series champion team, batting .253/.333/.443 with a 109 wRC+ and 3.4 fWAR. Like Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, this is another buy-low acquisition by GM Brian Cashman, and considering all they gave up was Johnson, I don't mind it at all. Bolstering my optimism is the fact that after a slow start (likely due to rest), Drew has been hot in July with a .456 slugging percentage and a 110 wRC+.
Johnson was injured and performing better than Drew this year with a .219/.304/.373 triple slash and an 88 wRC+, but it wasn't really that much better. Johnson also hasn't had a season like Drew had in 2013 since 2010, so chances for a second-half rebound are much higher with Drew. There will probably be some quibbling about how the Yankees are taking a chance with Drew at second base, but Drew was a fine defensive shortstop. It shouldn't be difficult to adapt to an easier position in the field at second, and Johnson was no Gold Glover there anyway.
Most importantly, this probably spells the end of Brian Roberts on the Yankees, who had been underwhelming. It's not calling up Rob Refsnyder, but that's okay if they really think he needs more work on defense. Drew should be able to cover the position, and it would be interesting to see if the Yankees view this as an audition of sorts for him to be the 2015 shortstop.
Stay tuned for more coverage.