Why is Stephen Drew Still Available?

Stephen Drew is still available.

Stephen Drew is still available.

Heading into the the 2013-2014 offseason, the two most sought-after free agent shortstops appeared to be Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew. Either player seemed a good match for any team (including the Mets) who looked to add a shortstop.

They are two relatively similar players when it comes to AVG/OBP/SLG (though Peralta has more home run power) and each can field their position adequately.

When Peralta signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, it seemed certain Drew would get a similar contract shortly after.

But here we are in January, and Drew is still on the market. Not only that, his value seems to be on the decline. His rumored asking price at the start of the offseason was somewhere in the three-year $36 million range. Now, the buzz is that he’ll only command a one or two-year deal.

So how is the 30 year-old shortstop still on the market?

It’s probably supply and demand. Besides the Cardinals, not many teams had a desperate need for a shortstop. Drew’s former team, the Red Sox, seem willing to go forth with young Xander Bogaerts. The Yankees publicly stated that they are not in on Drew, and will make the most of a combination of Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan. The Mets have publicly stated they can live with Ruben Tejada at short.

These statements could be earnest, or they could be bargaining tactics. The Mets and Red Sox could each be playing hard-to-get.

Boston could re-sign Drew, move Bogaerts to third, and either trade incumbent third baseman Will Middlebrooks, or use him off the bench. The Mets could hope 24 year-old Tejada can return to his 2012 self, when he hit .289/.333/.351 in 501 plate appearances.

Also, the Mets could be looking toward the 2014-2015 offseason, when a free agent like J.J. Hardy becomes available.

With that in mind, Sandy Alderson and company could be waiting for Drew’s camp to become desperate enough to sign a one-year contract, which would give the team more flexibility following the season. And at this point, the front office seems to have refocused their attention to 2015, when Matt Harvey returns, as the year they can seriously contend.

Is Drew still appealing? Certainly. He’s not exactly the second coming of Derek Jeter at the plate or Ozzie Smith in the field, but he’s a league-average hitter (Career 98 OPS+) and fielder (2 defensive runs saved and -3.3 UZR lifetime).

In the 2013 playoffs, he struggled at the plate, but played nearly flawless defense.

He’d be a pretty good match for the Sox, and a stabilizing force at shortstop for the Mets. However, neither Boston, New York, nor any other team, seem to be ready to give Drew anything more than a discounted deal.

Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. NormE January 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm
    I’d like to think that the Drew situation is a big poker game, with Sandy trying to outgame Boras and Boston. However, a little voice keeps nagging at me protesting that the Wilpons have come up empty and drew is beyond their fiscal reach.
    I hope the voice is wrong because the Mets spin on Tejada is not convincing.
    • DanB January 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm
      I have been hoping the same thing, NormE, but not only do I fear the Wilpons’ closed purse strings, but I also fear by the time Drew drops to the Met’s prefered level, someone else will steal him just because he is so undervalued, especially at an one year deal. Also, and I know this hurts Dave to the soul, but if the Mets have written off 2014 and are just looking for players to improve themselves for 2015 and beyond, I don’t see the value of adding Drew to an one year contract. But then again, I guess the same could be said of the Young signing.
  2. AV January 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm
    Drew would be a steal if his price dropped into the Mets’ range because the draft pick attached to him limits his suitors. I don’t think he’s worth what he’s asking for but he is a solid, if unspectacular, major leaguer. He has significant platoon splits but he could be the long side of a platoon with Ruben Tejada, which not only plays to his strengths but could light a fire under Tejada.
  3. argonbunnies January 3, 2014 at 7:41 pm
    I’m sure Boras will keep searching for a more lucrative option until the last second, then advise Drew to take a 1-year deal to try FA again next year. The Mets are nobody’s first choice for a 1-year deal (hitters don’t pump their value at Citi Field), so if they want Drew, they’ll have to meet Boras’s sky-high price. I don’t see it happening.

    It’s a shame, because the odds that things could break right and put the Mets in contention in 2014 are much higher without a gaping black hole in the everyday squad.

    Having watched Tejada burst onto the scene at age 20 with great 2B defense and impressive maturity, I feel bad calling him a black hole now, but I’m pretty convinced it’s true. He drew pitch-around walks batting 8th in 2011, hit a soft .300 for a few months in 2012, and those have been his offensive highlights. His team-mandated quest to add strength has left him less quick and flexible, his former instincts have eroded from some combo of doubt, criticism and failure, and now he can no longer play the field effectively. It’s sad.

  4. martym January 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm
    I think they really do need drew offer 2 year 15 million with an option for 3rd year based on if he stays healthy and hits above 250 with few errors committed. If you get tejada to best him than trade him for the prospect that it took to get him. our defense would be the best in league
    • Joe Janish January 3, 2014 at 11:26 pm
      Two years at $15M per year, or two years for $15M total? I’m assuming the former, since he turned down a one-year, $14.1M qualifying offer from Boston.

      Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLBPA and MLB, contract incentives cannot be performance-based, so forget about an option year based on batting average and/or lack of errors. But they can implement an option that vests based on games played — and if Drew plays, say, 145-150 games for two years, chances are his stats are pretty decent.

  5. Quinn January 4, 2014 at 2:23 am
    Signing Drew would be a positive move for the Mets. He can field and hit adequately, I dont think he alone pushes the team into contention but he would definitely help. If they could sign him for a 3 year deal at 30 mil I think you have to pull the trigger. This move would add a legitimately MLB ready starting SS (as opposed to a 21 year old Tejada). This would allow Tejada to become a super sub that could be used similarly to Turner. Plus this would allow Tejada to further develop without the team relying on him as a critical part of the team. Lack of depth has killed the Mets in recent years, this move would help the starting lineup and by consequence improve the bench ultimately assisting the team when injuries begin to occur.
    Also the Mets are still well under the proposed cap they had set for themselves, with limited other FAs out there, especially ones at a position of need I dont understand why this isn’t a move that wouldn’t be made… of course that’s why I am here not a GM.
  6. L.L. January 4, 2014 at 3:38 am
    Why is Drew available?

    1) Because Scott Boras Hosed him and told him he could do better than the $14 mill. qualifying offer.

    2) He batted under .100 most of the postseason.

    Who wants to pay for that?

  7. DaveSchneck January 4, 2014 at 10:06 am
    With this new comp system, each year there will be one or two guys that get hurt by the combination of supply and demand along with the comp pick. Drew makes perfect sense for the Mets on a two year deal at the right price. I have no problem with Alderson waiting it out. I also think the Ike deal may have an impact, and if Alderson can add a young quality are for Ike he may be willing to meet the market orice in pitching prospects for Owings from Arizona or one of Texas’ kids. Dan, 2014 opening day is a long way off and a GM/owner determined to compete in 2014 can still find a way without breaking the bank
    • Joe Janish January 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm
      Why do I remember similar feelings being expressed this time last year re: being plenty of time to make changes before Opening Day? Am I having deja vu all over again?
      • DaveSchneck January 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm
        Your memory is spot on. Alderson certainly came up small last year post-Dickey trade, money or no money and not withstanding the gift of Byrd, which had nothing to do with his skill as a GM. Should the Mets stand pat sand only add some scrap heap guys, I will agree that this offseason is a bust, they are punting on 2014, and the Grandy/Colon?Young acquisitions are just chum to the fanbase. If Alderson adds Drew for 2/years or a young SS with more upside to compete with Tejada a late inning arm to the pen, and a vet or two to compete for the #5 spot and provide AAA depth, I will consider the offseason a success. Not perfect, and the team will be flawed without a true leadoff or #4 hitter, but a least they will be respectable, with improvements especially to the defense, and they will be well poised for the next few years without terribly burdensome contracts and with all the key prospects still in their system. It’s showtime for Sandy right now!
  8. izzy January 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm
    Why is Drew not signed? Suspect Boras is not pushing hard since there is no awesome offer out there, hoping AROD gets suspended for the year, and then he tries to bring the Yankees in advertising Drew as a 3B for 2014 and a replacement for Jeter down the line. Just like the starting pitchers are in limbo waiting for the Tanaka chip to fall.
  9. Vilos January 5, 2014 at 8:23 am
    Thats a better question: are the Mets a better team at this time than they were at the same time last year ?
    I would think so.
    • Joe Janish January 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm
      That argument MIGHT hold water, but it doesn’t provide much hope. This time last year we didn’t know that Marlon Byrd was going to play superbly and Harvey would be one of the top 5 most dominant pitchers in MLB.

      This could be the subject of a future post.

    • DanB January 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm
      Last year this time, I thought the Mets were a 72ish win team. Now I see them as a 76 ish win team. So, yes you are right, they are better. But it doesn’t make me happy or satisfied.
    • izzy January 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm
      Not so sure Vilos. Last Jan, Met fans were alive with the hopes for a pending real ace in harvey. now there is only the hope that a PED cheating overweight out of shape 40+ year old can hold on and cheat his away to another fine season. Last year there was hope that Davis had finally arrived after his great 2012 second half. This year there is hope that he just goes away. Last year there was hope that Tejada might become an above average player. Now there is hope that he won’t be the worst SS in the game. This year there is hope that Grandy isn’t in a permanent decline and that C young can suddenly return to a form he held a mere 7 years ago. Spirits about D’Arnoud are much lower than they were a year ago, and the lies of the Wilpon/A;lderson regime about increased spending have turned off and turned away all average fans. The PR machine blares away about kids who have never played a MLB game but little has changed since the ponzii free ride ended for Fred and company.
  10. Vilos January 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm
    I see it differently.

    I see an outfield much better than last years. This year we have 4 decent players with some depth.

    I see an infield, that is at least equal to last years. I agree last year we had hope Davis would break out. This year it could be davis or duda who breaks out. Murphy has a full season under his belt and SS we all know is the weak link.

    I don’t agree were all down on TdA. Joe here likes him and I don’t think you can judge his bat based on last year.

    I don’t recall thinking Harvey was an ace at this time last year. This year we hace 4 solid starters, some options for fifth, two top prospects in the pipe and another month for minor league options.

    Bullpen: is there a difference.

    A final comparison: at this time last year, the team had many more holes and questions marks than now. This year all SA has to do is at least get more options for SS and wait for opportunities.

    In the end, I believe we have a better team. How Many moré Wins? I don’t know. Are we as good as the PR machine said we were going to be? Probably not.

    The good thing about blog media of Today is we don’t depend on the PR machine.

    • TexasGusCC January 6, 2014 at 1:39 am
      I agree with your analysis of the team going into the season, but, last year’s team benefited from some very good luck and was hurt by some bad luck. The good was Buck’s being hot in April, and besides Byrd’s heroics, Hawkins also was much more than we expected.
      On the flip side, Marcum was a total waste and having Laffey start those games in April was a disaster. Also, while you hope to catch lightning in a bottle with Byrd, or Cowgill, or Ankiel, the expectation that Duda would be decent at least turned into a Duda/Davis/Tejada/Buck disaster in May when they only won 6 games.
      So, while things may be a little better heading into the season, Colon running down to first may pull a hamstring and we are screwed after that. And, if Davis/Duda suck it up again?
    • Joe Janish January 6, 2014 at 1:42 am
      Are there less holes now than this time last year? I’m not so sure. But then, I don’t consider sticking a finger in the dike (or a placeholder) as filling a hole.

      For example, I don’t see Juan Lagares as an everyday CF, nor Chris Young as an everyday anything, so, in my mind, there are two holes in the outfield. First base is a complete mystery, as is shortstop. That’s four holes, on top of a DH playing second base and a catcher who, though I like very much, has been healthy enough to play 100 games only twice in 7 pro seasons. Additionally, Bobby Parnell is a question mark due to his back problem, there is no setup man, and the fifth starter is a toss-up. To me it appears as though the Mets have gone backward, or at best stayed in place, compared to January 2013.

  11. NormE January 5, 2014 at 11:54 pm
    It seems to me that debating whether the Mets are better or worse is missing the obvious. This is not a team that’s good enough to be a serious season-long contender. I don’t care if they go from 72 wins to 78 wins. That still sucks. First base is a major problem, shortstop is too. The outfield has big question marks, the starting pitching is thin (and we all know that injuries will happen) and the bullpen is not exactly flowing with proven talent. The Wilpons inability/unwillingness to fund this team properly (meaning as a major city franchise) is disgraceful.
    • Joe Janish January 6, 2014 at 1:43 am
      In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
    • DaveSchneck January 6, 2014 at 9:40 am
      I agree with the skepticism, but again let’s remember that it is early January. I think it is premature to compare the opening day 2013 team with the mid-winter 2014 squad. Joe points out that they still have holes and a lot of question marks, and that is true, but so does every team. The Nats scare me most, but the underperformed last year and have a new manager. The Braves have a lot of arms, but Uggla and BJ Upton were nightmares, there is uncertainty to how the young pitchers will progress and those returning from injury will perform, they lost two very signifcant vets, etc., etc. I also agree that I don’t care if they have a 72 or 78 win team, but they need to add enough talent to get to 78 before they can project to 82 or 85.

      It all comes down to how they are going to behave from here on out. They can inject more money for the right piece, they can still make a significant deal, etc. I am more comfortable with the team at the midpoint of this winter than I was last winter, but I if they cheap out from this point I will grade Alderson at a D for the winter, which is unacceptable. Add a legit SS and bullpen arm and they can join the wildcard discussion as an underdog – that is not a bad offseason.

  12. Vilos January 6, 2014 at 9:24 am
    Its ok with me if your definition of “holes” is of a higher standard, but in that case, last year we had 3 of them in the OF.
    I think your exagerating by saying that we have gone backwards, but maybe your not. What was your W-L prediction?
  13. Vilos January 6, 2014 at 10:42 am
    I don’t agree with all the skepticism. If were looking at 2014, yes were not contending but why must we follow the mighty PR machine.
    Why not look at other indicators, such as we still have our pitching prospects in place (as opposed to having tarded them), we now have CG on board, with a similar timing as DW, we have a couple of players who still have space for improvement and like many money lovers like to point out, we still have space to grow on the budget.
    It could be worst.
    • Joe Janish January 6, 2014 at 11:27 am
      I can’t speak for the others, but from my perspective, it’s not a case of optimism or skepticism — either would imply looking forward to the 2014 season. My thoughts are based on what I believe is reality — what the roster looks like right now compared to this time last year.

      If I were being skeptical, I would be saying that the Mets will be lucky to finish fourth, because I fear Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and Jenrry Mejia will all suffer debilitating arm injuries; Tejeda isn’t going to improve; Lagares won’t hit enough to stay in the lineup; Young won’t hit, period; Granderson will struggle mightily due to the change in leagues and home-park dimensions; the 1B situation will be a disaster; Murphy won’t hit as well as he did last year, and therefore be a more glaring problem in the field; and all these factors will be compounded by playing NL East rivals 18 times each, because it could be argued that every other club will be improved over 2013.

      In putting together my analysis and concluding that the Mets were about the same or possibly worse compared to this time last year, I did not consider any of the above.