Two weeks into the season, Stephen Drew is still a free agent. Whether you want to blame MLB’s qualifying offer system or Scott Boras for being too greedy is up to you, but either way one of the steadiest shortstops in baseball is not a on a big league roster. But the situation will probably not stay that way for much longer.
One of the biggest reasons no team has signed Drew is that he comes with draft pick compensation – but not if he signs after the June draft. In addition, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal claims that a contending team would have added incentive to sign Drew simply to keep him away from the Detroit Tigers, a team that is already a World Series favorite but is having trouble with Alex Gonzalez at shortstop. Two months from now, there could be an all-out bidding war for the 31-year-old infielder.
It’s no secret the New York Yankees lack infield depth. Derek Jeter is nowhere near as durable as he used to be, backup shortstop Brendan Ryan is on the DL and Brian Roberts is battling back problems. And that’s just up the middle. First base is becoming an absolute debacle as three Yankees have already played the position for the first time in their careers since Mark Teixeira injured his hamstring.
All of this considered, Drew would be an outstanding addition to the Yankees. Defensively, he could take over at second base or play third with Yangervis Solarte at second. Offensively, he’d be yet another left-handed bat in Yankee Stadium, which is never a bad thing. Basically, he’s a better version of Kelly Johnson.
Considering the team’s needs and his abilities, there’s no reason for New York not to pursue Drew, and it’s definitely risky to wait till June for the draft pick compensation to be lifted. Doing so invites more competition, and there’s also the question of whether the Bombers’ banged up infield can survive that long without reinforcements.
Still, the Yankees have no other option but to wait. Their farm system is already lackluster; they cannot afford to lose another first-round pick. When the Yankees signed Teixiera in 2009, the Los Angeles Angels used the draft pick compensation on Mike Trout. There’s no guarantee the Yankees will draft a superstar or even just a solid everyday player, but by signing Drew before June they deny themselves the possibility.
Drew would be a great addition to the team, but he’s by no means a savior. Teixeira could be back in a week to reinforce the infield and give the offense a boost. David Robertson should return shortly thereafter to bolster the bullpen. The starting pitching is also improving. The team can make it to June without imploding.
If a bidding war does erupt at that time, the Yankees are already over the $189 million luxury tax threshold which could work in their favor.
The Yankees will now begin a series with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday so don’t wait and make sure to get your New York Yankees tickets today.