Much of the news this offseason, prior to this week, has related to how the New York Yankees returned to their spending ways and loaded their roster right back up after a down year in 2013. Whether or not the massive spending will pay off remains to be seen, but there is going to be an even larger focus on the Bombers now that Derek Jeter has announced that he will retire following the 2014 season.
While Jeter hanging up his spikes after this season will have a tremendous effect on everything that happens for the Yankees this year, mostly putting an even larger spotlight on the franchise, there is uncertainty in the middle infield for the Yankees in the future. This is a team that already lost Robinson Cano this winter, and will roll into the 2014 campaign with a middle infield that could be starting Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson.
That doesn’t exactly scream success, even if the other bats they picked up to play the outfield and behind the plate do. With that in mind, in addition to the fact that the Yanks are going to be in need of a shortstop in 2015 and beyond, grabbing Stephen Drew up off the free agent market is something that makes too much sense for the Yankees to not do.
Some have looked at the available shortstops that will hit the free agent market following the season. The focus there has shifted to folks like Hanley Ramirez and J.J. Hardy. Ramirez has stated his desire to remain a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers for life, and Hardy could be an extension candidate for the Baltimore Orioles in the very near future. Sure, you have Asdrubal Cabrera and even Jimmy Rollins (the latter of which makes less sense for an already old team), but who knows what the chances of either one coming to the Bronx look like at this point.
Which is why the Yankees absolutely need to be all over Stephen Drew. And they needed to be all over him yesterday. Drew has flirted with the Yankees all winter and has been mentioned in rumors only with the Yanks, the New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox, the latter of which he just completed the 2013 season with, and had something of a rebound year.
He doesn’t bring a tremendous amount to the plate, but he’s a capable bat in the lineup. He slugged .443 and hit 13 homers in 2013. There’s some pop there, and he did get on base at a .333 clip last season. Yankee Stadium would be a fine spot for him. His real value is with the glove, where he went for a 6.7 UZR per 150 innings last year. He’s a fine defensive player who can play short and third.
It’s the fact that he can play third that adds some intrigue to this Yankees thing. They lack a third baseman without Alex Rodriguez. Do they really want to head into 2014 with both Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts in the starting lineup? Stephen Drew would not only provide an upgrade over both of them, but would prove a serviceable replacement for Jeter at short in 2015 in the event that they are unable to acquire another higher quality shortstop.
There aren’t many teams that would make sense for Stephen Drew. The Yankees have been linked to the veteran all season, and now’s the time for them to pick him up, before the Mets end up grabbing him.