Drew, one of the top shortstops in the game, is a man without a home as spring training opens this week. The Yankees, meanwhile, know that, with Derek Jeter's retirement, they will have a void at shortstop next season and can use help at second base this season.
Second base might not be Drew's natural position, but for an infielder known for his defense, I think he can make the short-term move and still see some time at shortstop as Jeter's late-inning defensive replacement. Last year, at shortstop, Drew committed only 8 errors, good enough for a .984 fielding percentage and 0.6 defensive WAR. With Brian Roberts on the Yankees' bench, Drew could slide over to shortstop if Joe Giradi wanted to tinker with his late-inning defense.
The Yankees, meanwhile, can afford to sign Drew, who will turn 31 next month. The team has already blown past its self-imposed spending cap and lost draft pick choices for signing Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann. What's some more money and another draft pick, especially for someone who's already proven that he can perform in a city like Boston?
According to the New York Post, Drew turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox and is seeking a 3-year deal worth more than the money he nixed, meaning the team that signs him will have to relinquish a draft pick. (Drew earned $9.5 million last season after signing a one-year deal with Boston.)
Soriano at Second? No.
On talk radio, there are almost daily rumbling about having the Yankees play Alfonso Soriano -- one of the team's five outfielders -- at second base, Soriano's old position with the Yankees. Yes, I remember Soriano playing alongside Derek Jeter from 2001 through 2003. I also remember Napster and Palm Pilots.
Soriano hasn't played more than two games in a season at second base since 2005, when he made 21 errors in 153 games, good enough for a .972 fielding percentage and a -2.2 defensive WAR. Oh, and there's the fact that Soriano is 38 years old. Also, I'm not in the business of questioning the baseball wisdom of Frank Robinson or Lou Piniella -- the two managers who made Soriano's move to the outfield permanent.
If Soriano sees time at second base this season, it should be in an emergency situation. Think Russell Martin covering third base during 2012 or Vernon Wells fielding ground balls at second and third base last season.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Yankees
- Stephen Drew
- Derek Jeter
- Alfonso Soriano