In Spring Training, Detroit Tigers fans were thrown into a state of panic when it was announced that Jose Iglesias might miss the entire 2014 season. The Tigers were not planning to carry a “true backup” at shortstop, and there was a great deal of speculation about how they might attempt to fill this gaping void.
The Tigers passed up the high-profile options such as signing free agent Stephen Drew or offering the Seattle Mariners a large package of talent in exchange for Nick Franklin or Brad Miller. Instead, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski opted for a couple of under-the-radar moves in acquiring Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angels and later Alex Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles. The latter turned out to be an abject disaster while the former has proven to be a very good addition.
Romine has been getting the majority of the starts at shortstop since Gonzalez was released and Danny Worth was subsequently called up. Romine may only be batting .205 at the moment, but he has only made one error in 62 chances in the field. He has also showed great range.
Worth has also played perfect defense in the two games he has started at shortstop, but he has just one hit in his first seven at-bats.
It was said all along that the Tigers were more interested in a shortstop who could catch the ball rather than one who could hit it, and Romine and Worth have been proving that they are more than capable of filling the Tigers’ defensive needs at shortstop.
That said, a few whispers about the Tigers possibly having an interest in Drew still remain, which is presumably because of his bat for the most part. Drew is a good defender, but it is hard to imagine what he could do with the glove that Romine and Worth cannot. However, his bat remains very intriguing despite the fact that he has been putting up rather mediocre numbers in recent years.
Drew is a left-handed hitter who has proven that he still has the ability to reach double-digits in the home run category and drive in 60-plus runs over the course of a 162-game season. He also has a respectable .264 lifetime batting average and once hit as many as 21 home runs in a single season.
Right now, switch-hitting Victor Martinez has the only formidable left-handed bat in the Tigers’ lineup due to Alex Avila‘s continued struggles. Drew could at least give Martinez some semblance of company.
The biggest reason why Drew remains unsigned is simply because inking him to a deal before the June draft would result in surrendering a first-round pick.
Therefore, with only one month left to go until the draft, there seems to be virtually no chance that the Tigers will attempt to sign him before then. The Tigers are extremely likely to continue riding it out with Romine and Worth for the time being, but one could see them re-evaluating where they are at one month from now.
It should be noted, however, that teams such as the New York Yankees and New York Mets have also been rumored to have interest in Drew, so the Tigers may need to be prepared to outbid other teams if they truly do covet him.