To Re-Sign Or Not To Re-Sign: Stephen Drew

Drew vs TOR For all the good moves Cash made at the deadline this year, the one that didn't pan out was the swap of Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew.  Drew, who was strongly-pursued by the Yankees last offseason, held out and didn't sign with a team after declining his qualifying offer from the Red Sox.  When the season started and he remained jobless, he came crawling back to Boston and began what ended up being the worst season of his career.  He finished that season playing second base in New York and moonlighting as Derek Jeter's potential replacement at shortstop.  Now he's looking at entering free agency again with his value at an all-time low and an obvious match with the Yankees as that replacement.  Should they give it another go with Drew?

Case For:

  • Position of Need- The Yankees had the same starting shortstop for the last 19 years and for the last couple of them they didn't have a very good starting shortstop.  They also don't have a good everyday option anywhere in their organization.
  • Major Defensive Upgrade- Jeter was a -50 DRS defender in his last 4 years and -159 for his career.  Drew has been a -2 DRS defender in his last 4 years and +6 for his career.
  • Lowest of Buy Low Situations- Hit .162/.237/.299 for the year after starting his season in early June and .150/.219/.271 in 155 PA as a Yankee post-trade.  His -1.1 fWAR was 255th out of 263 players with at least 300 PA.  That kind of production doesn't earn you big money.
  • Solid Career Production- Even with the horrible 2014 numbers factored in, Drew is a .256/.322/.425 career hitter (.324 wOBA) with a decent BB rate (8.9%) and power (.168 ISO).  He's shown himself to be an above-average player when healthy.

Case Against:

  • Inconsistency- 2014 was the latest down in a career full of ups and downs for Drew.  He hit .316 in 59 games as a rookie, then .238/.313/.370 in his first full season in 2007.  He played 151 games and had the best year of his career in 2010, then suffered his ankle injury and was pretty crappy for the next 2.  He had a 3+ fWAR season for Boston in 2013 and then the career-worst season this year.
  • Past His Prime- He might still be technically in his prime at age 31, but Drew turns 32 before next Opening Day.  Even if he improves on this year's horrific numbers, and there's every reason to expect that he will, he's closer to starting a permanent decline than he is to matching his 2010 production.
  • The Scott Boras Factor- Possibly the single most important factor in any case for any of the upcoming Yankee free agents.  Boras was responsible for Drew's season playing out the way it did this year, and even with how poorly it played he'll still probably get Drew more years and more money than he deserves.  All things being equal, the Yanks should be able to re-sign Drew to a cheap 1-year "show me" deal.  With Boras involved, you never know.

When the regular season ended, there was almost universal hatred for Drew in Yankeeland and the strong desire to see him shipped out of town immediately and never return.  A month later, the general fan mindset has shifted to one of begrudging acceptance that Drew might be the best FA shortstop option available.  It's an idea that's been discussed at length on this site and by now everybody knows the story.  He's good defensively, he can hit some, he's got some power, he'll likely come cheaper than any of the other top names, and he'll come without draft pick compensation.  He's arguably the best short-term solution available and if nothing more he gives the Yankees more time to work on finding a better long-term solution.

The Yankees have had interest in Drew as a Jeter replacement for over a year now, but they couldn't sign him last offseason because they could not/would not guarantee him regular playing time at shortstop.  Drew had interest in the Yankees last offseason, but didn't sign with them because he knew he wouldn't be getting regular playing time at shortstop.  Despite both sides playing their hands clumsily over the last year, they've arrived at the opportunity they were hoping for and the Yankees arrive in the more advantageous bargaining position.  If the years and dollars are low, the odds are good that Drew will be a Yankee again in 2015.