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Boston Red Sox: Has Recent Minor Trade Forced Out Stephen Drew for Good?

Acquiring Herrera Seemingly Makes Drew Expendable

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox completed a minor trade Wednesday, sending relief pitcher Franklin Morales and minor league pitcher Chris Martin to the Colorado Rockies for utility infielder Jonathan Herrera.

Although the move, as first reported by MLB.com's Thomas Harding and Ian Browne, is small in nature, it may well signal the end of infielder Stephen Drew in Beantown.

The 30-year-old Drew was the Red Sox's starting shortstop this past season, as the team went on to win the 2013 World Series. Although he hit a modest .253 with 13 home runs and 67 RBIs in 124 games, his solid defense was a major factor to the success. It was his first year in Boston, as he was brought in as a free agent last offseason on a one-year contract after spending the first seven years of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics.

Earlier this offseason, Boston made a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to Drew but he decided to decline in order to pursue a larger contract.

Since Boston's top prospect, 21-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, showed he was ready for the majors with an impressive debut at the end of the regular season and the playoffs last season, there wasn't as big a need to bring back the veteran.

However, The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham recently reported the team was still interested in retaining Drew for the right deal as an insurance option for Bogaerts and third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

The slim chance that Drew might come back narrowed even further with the acquisition of Herrera. The 29-year-old potentially fills the major need of a versatile backup infielder who can play second, short and third.

The switch-hitter complements the currently projected starting infield nicely, as they are all right-handed hitters.

Herrera has played parts of five major league seasons with the Rockies, appearing in a total of 375 games, hitting a combined .265 with eight home runs and 66 RBIs. Most recently, he hit .292 with a homer and 16 RBIs last season in 81 games.

He isn't a star but is a solid defender with the valuable ability to shift seamlessly between multiple positions, in a similar vein to Alex Cora, who was an effective utility man with the Red Sox from 2005-2008.

Does the acquisition of Herrera all but end any chance of Drew returning? WEEI's Alex Speier reports that Boston's new infielder is under team control for another two seasons and made just $900,000 in 2013. A veteran like Drew should expect to command much more, and if he signs with another team, Boston would receive a compensatory draft pick, which would be highly coveted.

Not everyone is willing to give up on the possibility of Drew returning just yet. MassLive.com's Ben Shapiro speculates that the Herrera trade could have been just a smoke screen to reduce Drew's market and possibly induce him to be more amenable to a team-friendly deal.

If the Red Sox did re-sign Drew, the Herrera trade wouldn't necessarily be a waste. Speier reports that the newest member of the Red Sox still has a minor league option remaining and could be stashed until needed if he didn't start the season in the big leagues.

Herrera is a fine backup infielder who appears to be a great fit in Boston. Although his acquisition may not officially preclude Drew from returning, it certainly seems like the chances of that happening have now gone down to an all-time low.

In addition to the Yahoo Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written extensively for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports (particularly the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots). He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.

You can also follow Andrew on Twitter: @HistorianAndrew.

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