Rounding Third: Red Sox shake things up with Drew signing

 

The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - As we head into action on May 21, the defending world champion Boston Red Sox find themselves four games under .500 and in fourth place in the American League East.

Now granted, they are only 3 1/2 games out of first place, but still, this team needed a shakeup and they got one on Tuesday with the signing of free agent shortstop Stephen Drew.

Boston offered Drew a $14 million qualifying offer at the end of last season which he rejected, but teams were reluctant to sign him this offseason due to the fact they would have to surrender a high pick in the upcoming draft.

Drew will make around $10 million over the next four months, which is essentially the prorated amount from the qualifying offer he rejected. He'll be a free agent again at the end of this season, but this time teams won't have to surrender any kind of compensation to sign him.

"We're looking for ways to improve this team," Farrell said. "Without having to give up talent to acquire a good player in Stephen, we were able to sign him as a free agent. Once he gets back to us, we'll add a good player to this team."

Drew appeared in 124 games for the Red Sox last season and only batted .253 with 13 home runs, 67 RBI and a .777 OPS. He was actually worse offensively in the postseason and batted a mere .158 in the six-game win over the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was tremendous defensively and was a stabilizing force on the left side of that infield.

Not to mention, he just seemed to be a perfect fit inside that Red Sox clubhouse.

"I think Stephen helped us out a lot last year," said designated hitter David Ortiz. "Great player, great teammate and hopefully he brings the same attitude that he had last year and helps us win some games."

Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted on Tuesday that some of the veteran players had wanted Drew back.

After a week or so at Triple-A Pawtucket, Drew should re-join the team and re- claim his shortstop spot, which had been manned by 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts, who will now shift over to third, where he played last postseason, hasn't been the problem. Yes, his defense has been shaky at times, but he has improved of late and is hitting .270 with a .770 OPS - third among AL shortstops

"We still see Xander as a shortstop," Farrell said. "That was explained very clearly to Xander. "This shouldn't take away, in his mind, what our long-term view of him is. Xander's still a very good-looking young player and a good- looking young shortstop."

The Drew signing may not have been an indictment on Bogaerts, but it was certainly a shot across the bow of third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

After a terrific rookie season in 2012, Middlebrooks has hit just .222 in 115 games since the start of the 2013 season and has been on the disabled list three times.

Middlebrooks is currently sidelined with a fractured right finger and this signing, albeit for one year, could spell the end to his Red Sox career. He was only hitting .197 in 21 games this season and it's hard to imagine him with this team once he returns.

"We've got to get Will healthy first, and we've got to get Will back to game speed," Farrell said. "Until that happens, we'll factor all that in once he does return to us."

Perhaps a trade would be the best option for all parties involved at this point.

The Red Sox tried to rebuild. It wasn't working. Kudos to them for adjusting on the fly while there is still plenty of time to make a run in what is a very winnable AL East.

The fact that Drew was still a free agent is kind of ridiculous. There were plenty of teams that could have used him. The Detroit Tigers and both New York teams immediately come to mind. And none of them would have had a problem with his price tag.

They simply did not want to give up a draft pick.

That's a problem for another day and one that will be dealt with in the new collective bargaining agreement for sure.

Until then, though, are there any takers for Kendrys Morales?

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