Today the Hall of Fame will announce the Class of 2014 and once that's done the baseball world can get back to the biggest off-season debate - where will Stephen Drew play in 2014?
Jeff Sullivan has a good look at the market for Stephen Drew. The key line is, "It's a small market because [Stephen] Drew isn't needed by any team with real money to spend." YES! YES! A thousand times YES!
Stephen Drew isn't a superstar. He may be a top 10 MLB shortstop but the difference between him and a team's existing option at short is not that great. In the case of Boston - many think (myself included) that Drew at short in 2014 would be a worse solution that having super prospect Xander Bogaerts at short and 25-year old Will Middlebrooks at third. Stephen Drew? DO NOT WANT!
Drew in Boston doesn't make any sense. Bogaerts and Middlebrooks are young, inexpensive and provide a better offensive combination than a Drew / Bogaerts combo. Plus if Drew signs elsewhere the Red Sox get a draft pick! If Drew signs with Boston it will put them over the luxury tax and most likely force them to immediately deal either Ryan Dempster ($13 million) or Jake Peavy ($14 million).
And please spare me the argument that the remaining free agents are getting squeezed by draft pick compensation issues. It is not a flawed system that is preventing Stephen Drew from signing with a team. It is the fact that Stephen Drew is just not that good and he and his agent Scott Boras greatly over-estimated his value. The current system means the Red Sox had to give Drew a qualifying one-year offer of $14.1 million. That was a risk on Boston's part. What if he accepted? Again - the Red Sox would have been immediately forced to deal a Dempster or Peavy to make that work. Instead Drew MIGHT get a 2-year deal worth $16 million. If that comes to pass who is to blame? The system? Or Drew / Boras for passing up a $14 million one year deal?
As far as the other remaining big name free-agents like Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez - each has issues not related to draft pick compensation. Santana and Jiminez have to wait on the Tanaka posting lottery to finalize. Cruz is a PED guy and people are afraid of signing the next Juan Gonzalez. Morales is really just a DH with limited appeal. Cruz, Drew and Morales all should have signed the $14 million qualifying offer.