On Wednesday, when Brian Cashman addressed the Yankees’ financial plan for the rest of the offseason, his words were just vague enough to leave room for almost anything.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to think there will be any more heavy lifting that can take place,” Cashman said. “I’m not going to say we’re not going to try to improve ourselves. We’ll just realistically do it in a much cheaper way going forward.”
Much cheaper than the half billion the Yankees have already spent? That’s a pretty big window. And what’s the definition of heavy lifting? Safe to assume seven years and $155 million is pretty heavy, but what about three years and $45 million (the Carlos Beltran contract) or two years and $12 million (what Grant Balfour got from Tampa Bay) or two years and $7 million (Matt Thornton’s deal)? Did Cashman mean the Yankees are finished giving Major League deals, or simply that it depends on the price (as if it doesn’t always depend on the price)?
Within that “heavy lifting” wiggle room comes this idea that’s been bouncing around all winter: What about a run at Stephen Drew? Jon Heyman reported last night that the Yankees were considering taking a shot at Drew to help their infield situation. He also noted that such a run “depends on the price.”
The appeal of Drew is pretty obvious: He’s an infielder (and the Yankees infield is thin). He’s a shortstop (and the Yankees shortstop is both aging and coming off a series of lower-body injuries). He’s a left-handed hitter (and Yankee Stadium plays well for left-handed hitters). Signing Drew could be a move for both the short term and the long term, giving the Yankees infield depth for 2014 and a potential Jeter replacement for 2015 and beyond (if not earlier).
For the sake of playing devil’s advocate, I’ll point out that Drew’s OPS+ is actually lower than Kelly Johnson’s, his career OPS is only .002 higher that Johnson’s, and Drew’s career splits are actually quite a bit more significant than Johnson’s. Drew also has no pro experience playing any position but shortstop, and he’s tied to draft pick compensation for whatever team signs him.
I’m probably not as high on Drew as a lot of folks, but I recognize that he’s a nice player, especially given the Yankees needs and future uncertainty. I can understand those who want him, and I can understand those who think he’s unnecessary. For now, it seems that there’s more smoke than fire when it comes to the Yankees making a run at him.
Associated Press photo