When the Boston Red Sox signed Stephen Drew to a $9.5 million contract this offseason, it was more of a reflection of their feelings about Jose Iglesias than anything else.
The Red Sox brass was worried that the 23 year-old light hitting shortstop wasn’t quite ready for primetime. There was never a question about his glove; it was all about his seemingly limited offensive abilities, and rightfully so. Last year, in 25 games, Iglesias hit a paltry .118, driving in two runs in 68 at bats. It seemed very unlikely he would improve enough to award him the shortstop job in 2013, so they signed Drew as a stop gap.
Turns out they couldn’t have been more wrong.
This year it has been Drew that has struggled offensively. He got off to a horrific start, hitting .154 in April and even after a recent hot streak is only hitting .233 for the season. He’s had a few clutch hits sprinkled in but not enough to justify leaving him in the lineup with a .303 on base percentage.
By contrast, Iglesias has been outstanding in 2013. In 44 games, he’s hitting an incredible .403 for the Red Sox. And while no one is going to confuse him with Ted Williams, he has looked much more comfortable at the plate this year. He’s driving the ball gap to gap and has a .517 slugging percentage to show for it (that would tie Drew’s best year, back in 2006). His offensive performance is by far the most surprising part of the Red Sox’ tremendous start.
So the Red Sox face a tough decision as they move through July. Do they trade Drew, who just went on the disabled list with a barking hamstring, or do they keep him as they head down the stretch?
It seems like a pretty simple decision to me. They should trade Drew, get a decent prospect or two in the process, and give Iglesias the full-time starting spot at short. In September, they can call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts, let him get some experience, and perhaps add him to the playoff roster as an infield backup.
Yes, there are questions at third base with Will Middlebrooks struggling and being sent down, but that will work itself out. Perhaps they can trade for another reliable third baseman at the deadline as well. Regardless, Drew’s time in Boston should end soon.
B.L. is a sports writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip.