The Pros and Cons of Stephen Drew
By: Eliot Podgorsky
It is official (or will be once he passes his physical). Stephen Drew has re-signed with the Yankees on a one-year $5 million deal ($7 million if he hits incentives). Most fan reaction was either up in arms calling for Cashman’s head or gave it a general "meh." Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of his signing.
(photo via yanksgoyard,com)
- It's a one-year deal. He is not blocking Refsnyder, Pirela or anyone else long-term.
- It's relatively cheap. While we may look at a $5 million-$6.5 million contract and be upset it's chump change to the Yankees. In the grand scheme of things it is barely any of the payroll. If he falls flat on his face the Yankees can move on with relative ease as they did last year with Brian Roberts.
- It allows Refsnyder and Pirela to work on their fielding and hitting respectively in the minors. Both players have specific skills ready for the majors but this signing allows them to work on under developed skills without spotlight and adjusting their game in the majors.
- Refsnyder will be with the team an extra year if he is called up in late April or later. While this may seem like a wrong reason to keep a prospect in the minors it is a route many teams take. With the Yankees getting younger it could benefit them long-term especially if he works on his defense (see previous point).
- He is still an above average defensive player. Before his offensive production cost him the starting second baseman job Drew had taken to his new position with ease.
- He provides backup at short for Didi Gregorious and Brendan Ryan. I believe that all Yankees fans are pulling for Didi to be a solid replacement for the legendary Derek Jeter but there is no telling what happens. Maybe the pressure gets to him, perhaps his offense never comes around, and it could be the Yankees deal him in a package for a starting pitcher. They’ve covered themselves if the worst happens and won’t have to rely on Brendan Ryan to start should Didi falter. There is also the possibility the Didi and Ryan platoon to start the season.
- There is upside. Drew had a solid season with the Red Sox in 2013. That is not too long ago to write him off as a lost cause. Perhaps with a full Spring Training he rediscovers his swing. It would be awfully nice for him to take advantage of the short porch in right field a la Johnny Damon in 2006 and 2009.
- He was putrid offensively in 2014. There is no way to sugarcoat a .162/.237/.299 slash line. On to the next point.
- He blocks young players. In fans minds Refsnyder was knocking on the door of the Majors all season. His offense appears more than ready for the majors. Instead the Yankees have blocked him with Roberts, Drew, Prado and now Drew again. Free Rob!
- He's not a long-term solution. Even if everything turns around for Drew and the prospects fall on their faces Drew would not likely be a long-term solution. He will be 32 this season and as a Scott Boras client will likely try to cash in for one more lucrative deal in the offseason. I doubt the Yankees bite on that deal with the pitching crop that will be free agents in the offseason.
- His contract is money not spent on reinforcing the starting rotation. It may only be $5 million but that $5 million is not being spent on someone who is not Chris Capuano.
- He's a redundancy on the roster. If Drew's hitting ability doesn't return to form he and Ryan are basically the same player and Ryan is $2.5 million cheaper.
My final tally has it 7-5 pro. I've been hankering for a position player to come through the system to pan out and I think many Yankees fans feel the same way. I was pretty excited to see Refsnyder come opening day and I’m definitely bummed that is no longer happening. That being said I don't think this is a bad move.
For me it really comes down to money. If this deal was for the $7-$10 million he was supposedly after I don’t think I’d like the deal. If Drew returns to form he can help the Yankees return to playoffs in an up for grabs AL East. He'll then likely leave in the offseason allowing a more seasoned Refsnyder or Pirela to take the reigns in 2016. If he stinks up the joint like he did last year he'll be cut or traded during the season and one of them will replace him anyway.
Has the list swayed your opinion? Am I insane for thinking signing Drew isn’t that bad? What do you think about this signing?
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All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com