Stephen Drew: A Good Fit for the Angels?


It’s no secret that second base has been a question mark since the Angels traded Howie Kendrick. Last week I profiled the Halos possible candidates already in-house to man the keystone position. That said, trade or free agent additions are still available. One such player recently linked to the Angels is Stephen Drew.

It was only a year ago Drew received a qualifying offer and subsequently rejected it, in hindsight a terrible decision. Not only did he have to wait until May 21st to sign but had to settle for a prorated contract of the qualifying offer. Perhaps even worse was the fact that he missed spring training and the first part of the season and never got going offensively.

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Whether or not this is why he struggled so mightily last season is up for debate. According to a source quoted in an article by Joel Sherman, that excuse doesn’t fly. The executive said “Fine, you want to say June and July [last year] were spring training for him, well, how about August or September? There was never a time in which he looked like a major league hitter. The ball didn’t come off his bat well, there was zero consistency. Nothing.”

Indeed, Drew put up a batting line of .162/.237/.299 with an OPS of .536. Abysmal numbers and the reason he’s still available. Especially since his agent, Scott Boras, is asking for $9mm-$10mm on a one year deal. Hey, you might as well ask. 

he does three things that none of the other options for second can do, bat left handed, play strong defense and be a capable backup for Erick Aybar

Why would the Angels have any interest in someone like Drew who will require a likely payday in the range of $7 million-$8 million? It wasn’t that long ago that he was a plus offensive player and he does three things that none of the other options for second can do, bat left handed, play strong defense and be a capable backup for Erick Aybar. In 2013 he slashed his way to an OPS+ of 111. He also has some pop in his bat averaging about 10 home runs a year. Grant Green and Josh Rutledge are possibilities at shortstop but would be terrible defensively. Drew on the other hand is a very good natural shortstop who rated positively even last year as he struggled with the bat. He played second for the Yankees last season in 34 games and was rated at 0.2 dWAR over that short span.

When you don’t have a sure bet everyday player at a position, it’s often a good strategy to employ a platoon, as our Oakland adversaries have so often been successful with. The Angels have plenty of right handed options for second but Drew would be the only lefty. In utilizing him this way and having a backup for shortstop he would actually make a lot of sense for the Angels.

Whether or not he is even an option comes down to how much he will cost. The good is that we know it will only be for a one year contract and he won’t cost any prospects. With the team wary of the luxury tax threshold, his price would have to be right. If they have other plans in mind you can’t let Drew handicap you from making them. The front office would also have to have some reason to believe that at age 32 he would bounce back from last seasons debacle.

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The Angels are built for a championship season. Solidifying every hole and creating depth for multiple up-the-middle positions is has extreme value when every win is critical. If they were to sign Drew for $7 million they would be back where they started, salary wise, when they still had Kendrick. In essence it would be like trading Kendrick for Andrew Heaney and Drew while eating Kendrick’s salary. Something that would have been considered a great deal.

In my eyes the only reasons the Angels would not have some interest is if they think he’s washed up and won’t return to form or his price would prevent them from making a move now or at the trade deadline. If he’s washed up, done deal, move on. If he costs too much, wave goodbye. If though, he can be had while not handcuffing future moves, he could add value while not costing anything more than money and should be strongly considered.

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