Detroit Tigers Could Still Use Left-Handed Bat, But It Made Sense to Avoid Stephen Drew

By Brad Faber
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Back in March, when it was announced that Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias could miss the entire 2014 season due to stress fractures in his shins, the name that everyone immediately began discussing was Stephen Drew, who was remarkably still unsigned at that point. For more than two months, Tigers fans debated the pros and cons of signing the slick-fielding shortstop, but the saga was finally brought to an end when the Boston Red Sox elected to bring him back on a prorated one-year, $14.1 million contract on May 20.

Due to the struggles of the Tigers’ shortstops this season, in addition to the fact that the club is light on left-handed hitting, there were times when signing Drew certainly seemed like it would have been a good idea. However, it now seems that the risk would have been higher than the possible reward.

For starters, Drew can always be counted on to play solid defense, but the Tigers would have been lucky if Drew could have hit .260 with a dozen home runs — and those numbers might be pushing it. Although that is better production than the Tigers are currently getting from left-handed hitters who are not named Victor Martinez, the price tag on Drew was rather steep for someone who would have, in all likelihood, only provided mediocre offense.

Furthermore, if the Tigers would have signed Drew before the June draft, they would have been required to surrender their first-round pick, which they ultimately ended up using to select Derek Hill, an 18-year-old center fielder out of California. Hill is already drawing comparisons to a young Torii Hunter, and he should have a very bright future with the Tigers’ organization.

The Tigers have been able to get an up close and personal look at Drew this weekend, as the Red Sox strolled into the Motor City for a three-game series on Friday. Drew was given the start in yesterday’s game against Max Scherzer, and although he went 1-for-5 with an RBI, he is still only batting .091 (1-for-11) on the season with four strikeouts. It looks like those who predicted that his bat would be cold after being out of action since last October were correct.

The fact that the Tigers did not sign Drew has also given them a chance to promote the 22-year-old Eugenio Suarez, who hit his very first big league home run in last night’s game.

The Tigers could still, however, use another left-handed bat, but it is beginning to look more and more like Drew’s would not have been the answer. The left-handed Andy Dirks, according to multiple reports, continues to do light baseball workouts and hopes to rejoin the team by the end of June.

If Dirks can once again hit like he did in 2012, he will give the Tigers another sturdy left-handed bat and he will be a welcome sight in the Tigers’ outfield. If not, perhaps the Tigers could explore a trade or consider the possibility of bringing up someone like Steven Moya in order to get a much-needed left-handed bat to Motown.

Brad Faber is a Detroit Tigers writer for Follow him on Twitter @Brad_Faber, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on LinkedIn or Google.

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