The Boston Red Sox are open to Stephen Drew returning in 2014. General manager Ben Cherington appears to be willing to wait out the market, though.
Cherington said on WEEI’s The Hot Stove Show on Thursday that the Red Sox have maintained an open dialogue with Drew and his agent, Scott Boras, but that the two sides haven’t had any discussions in a few weeks.
“We’ve kept a dialogue going, and frankly haven’t had a conversation in a little while now. It’s been probably just before the holidays,” Cherington said. “I don’t have any doubt Stephen has opportunities out there. He’s a good player. He’s a healthy player. He’s going to be someone’s shortstop this year. We think we’ve had an honest, open dialogue with Stephen and Scott, obviously about what our interests are and some of the issues we’re facing. He’s done the same, and we’ll continue to have a conversation as we always do with Scott. But there’s nothing really to report on it.”
The Red Sox made Drew a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer at the beginning of free agency, but the shortstop rejected it to pursue a multiyear contract on the open market. Drew’s market has since been slow to develop, as most teams already have their shortstop situation in order, and any team — besides the Red Sox — that signs Drew will need to relinquish a draft pick by virtue of Boston’s qualifying offer.
The New York Mets appear willing to go with Ruben Tejada at shortstop unless they can sign Drew to a team-friendly deal. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently said his club won’t sign Drew. The St. Louis Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta earlier this offseason. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Minnesota Twins look prepared to roll with Jordy Mercer and Pedro Florimon, respectively. Simply put, Drew is running out of options, and a return to Boston seems like a realistic possibility.
Cherington isn’t in a hurry to make a decision regarding Drew, though. The GM said Thursday that he has confidence in manager John Farrell and the major league staff to accommodate a move that makes sense for the team, regardless of when it occurs. Plus, the Red Sox can pencil in Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks at shortstop and third base, respectively, if Drew eventually signs elsewhere.
“One of things we’ve been focused a lot of on this winter, and talking about internally, we have, as everyone knows, got a handful of young players who we believe in, who we believe are going to be really good major league players and, of course, when they’re unproven at the major league level, there’s always a fair question about transition and whether there’s a learning curve that needs to take place,” Cherington said. “That said, if you have young players you believe in, there is a real value to be obtained from committing to some of them, because if you don’t, you never do. Everyone knows the best teams year in, year out that can integrate young players from time to time and integrate them successfully, because that makes your team better, it helps you manage things, it helps you manage payroll year in, year out. The only way to do that, of course, is to at some point commit to the young players. The question is which players and how many and what is the right time to do that. That’s the dialogue we’ve been having internally. We think we’re in that position that we have a chance to do that.”
The Red Sox would be a deeper team next season with Drew in the mix, but Boston isn’t in a desperate situation. As the GM noted Thursday, lineup spots don’t need to be handed out in January.