The New York Yankees agreed to sign Stephen Drew to a one-year, $5 million deal this week. It has been reported that Drew can earn up to $1.5 million through incentives, bringing the potential value of the veteran's deal to $6.5 million.
New York added Andrew Miller (four years, $36 million) and re-signed Chase Headley ($52 million over four seasons), but given Drew's recent history this signing is the most polarizing.
Drew, who will turn 32 in March, has struggled offensively over the past few seasons. In 155 plate appearances with the Yankees in 2014, the shortstop/second baseman hit .150/.219/.271 with three home runs and 36 strikeouts against 13 walks. He was slightly better (.176/.255/.328) during the first half of the season with the Boston Red Sox.
He became a Twitter punching bag during the 2013 season as the Red Sox charged towards a World Series title. John Farrell stuck with Drew because of his defense despite the presence of phenom Xander Bogaerts. Over the course of 16 postseason games that fall, Drew hit .111/.140/.204 with an eye-popping 19 strikeouts.
As always, baseball is great theater. Despite his historically bad postseason at the plate, Drew homered in Game 6 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals as the Red Sox won it all.
It remains to be seen whether Drew can be an average offensive player going forward. He didn't sign with the Red Sox until a few months into last season and was thrown into the fire without much preparation, which may be one of the reasons why his struggles carried over.
Drew hit .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs, 67 RBI and 124 strikeouts in 501 plate appearances with Boston during the 2013 regular season, which wasn't all that long ago. His slash line from that season is in line with his career mark (.256/.322/.425), which may suggest that he has a few years of production left in his bat.
The Yankees are bringing Drew back because they have needs of the left side of the infield. Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez will play at third base and Didi Gregorius was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks to replace Derek Jeter at short, but there is a hole at second base. Martin Prado seemed to be the man for the job, but was shipped to the Miami Marlins in the Nathan Eovaldi deal.
Drew will give Joe Girardi with a steady option at second, while also providing a safety net at short if Gregorius isn't ready to be the everyday shortstop in New York.
Grade for Yankees: A-
There has been a lot of vitriol surrounding this move, but Brian Cashman should get good value out of Drew for $5 million-plus. The Red Sox signed him to a prorated deal worth twice as much just last May.
Grade for Drew: B+
It was rumored that Drew and agent Scott Boras were looking for at least $7 million and he'll come close to that if he performs well with the Yankees. When he signed with the Red Sox near midseason in 2014, the hope was that he'd reset his value and land a multiyear deal this offseason.
That didn't happen, but he gets another shot at increasing his market value under a large microscope with free agency looming again next winter.