The Boston Red Sox re-signed shortstop Stephen Drew to a pro-rated contract equal to the $14.1 million qualifying offer Boston offered him in November of 2013. While this obviously means that Drew has found a home and that home is a familiar one, what else does this mean for Drew and the Red Sox organization?
First off, this signing is a victory for super-agent Scott Boras. A majority of analysts and sportswriters did not believe Drew would be signed until after the June 5 amateur draft, a date that would allow teams to avoid surrendering a first-round pick to Boston. The fact that he signed before that date suggests Drew is more valuable than teams thought for the entirety of the offseason and almost the first two months of the season. However, it was the Red Sox, and not another team like the Yankees or Tigers, that signed him, meaning there was still no lost draft picks. Take that for what you will, but this means there was at least one team that could use Drew.
Secondly, the Red Sox seem to be losing faith in their commitment to Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks as their left side of the infield solution. With last week’s placement of Middlebrooks onto the 15-day disabled list (for the second time this season), the Red Sox are not comfortable with their third base situation, even with the solid performance of call-up Brock Holt. While the Drew signing will move Bogaerts to third, it does not appear to have anything to do with Bogaerts’ performance. In fact, Bogaerts has been one of the brighter spots in the stumbling Red Sox lineup. Sure, Stephen Drew is a better defender than Bogaerts, but the move had nothing to do with his bat.
While Bogaerts may not be happy about the switch in positions — especially after being all but promised the starting shortstop job — he is not without a regular spot in the starting nine. For Middlebrooks, a spot is far less certain. When he returns from injury, it may not be to the Red Sox roster, at least not for long. With recent speculation of a potential trade with Miami to bring Giancarlo Stanton to Boston, Middlebrooks is likely one of the pieces that would be moved. It appears the Red Sox have lost faith in Middlebrooks, both with his underperforming bat and his subpar defense. Given the Red Sox attachment to Bogaerts, plus his size suggesting he is better suited at third anyway, Middlebrooks has become expendable, especially with the signing of Drew.
Middlebrooks also has been a distraction, with his now-public relationship with former field-side reporter Jenny Dell. Middlebrooks is a good player, but he has not been the same since his rookie campaign in 2012. A change of scenery would likely do him well, as he is still young enough to improve. The signing of Drew, if nothing else, means Middlebrooks’ days in a Red Sox uniform are numbered.
Stephen Drew is not a long-term solution at shortstop. The club-friendly, one-year deal they signed him to is the same one they offered last offseason. While neither party expected Drew to re-sign at the time, the Red Sox did not appear to have a problem with retaining his rights. The Red Sox have a lot of prospects on the left side of the infield, and one year of Stephen Drew will likely help them to develop even more.
It may be months before Middlebrooks is moved, but the Stephen Drew signing suggests it is more likely than ever. While Bogaerts may not like the move to third, he may come to love it in the long run. The Red Sox have clearly improved their defense and likely their lineup with the signing of Drew, and at day’s end, isn’t it all about building the best team?