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According to reports, former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias will be out until at least the All-Star break, and potentially the entire 2014 season, with injuries to both of his shins.
Iglesias, who was sent to the Detroit Tigers as part of the three-team trade that brought Jake Peavy to Boston, was set to take over at shortstop full-time this season after incumbent Jhonny “H before O except for every other Johnny” Peralta signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent. I must say that I’m bummed I won’t have any of his web gems to look forward to.
The Tigers aren’t totally out of luck (though fantasy baseball owners may be), however; they could replace one former Red Sox shortstop with another and sign Stephen Drew, who remains a free agent after declining Boston’s one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer.
Obviously signing Drew would require a little extra cash on the part of the Tigers to satisfy Scott Boras. But given Drew’s reputation with the Red Sox last year as a rock up the middle — I think we can all agree it wasn’t his offense that kept him on the field during the 2013 postseason — he would seem to be a logical (if less flashy) replacement for Iglesias. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Tigers’ in-house alternatives are currently Steve Lombardozzi, Danny Worth, Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez, with potential trade targets equally uninspiring.
In fact, Drew would arguably be an improvement over Iglesias. As much of a wizard as Iglesias is with the glove, he has a propensity to occasionally add a little panache to his fielding, while Drew’s steadier hand in the field looks to make the simple play rather than the sexy one. Still, Iglesias undeniably has better range, however, and the reputation as one of the best fielders in the game.
The real upgrade comes from Drew’s bigger bat (not that you could tell from last year’s postseason run). Even playing in just 124 games, Drew was eighth among shortstops from both leagues in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 3.4. Narrow that down to the second half of the season, when Drew wasn’t dealing with his spring training concussion and had recovered from the hamstring injury that landed him on the disabled list for the first half of July, and he was the fourth-best shortstop in Major League Baseball. Among shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances after the All-Star break, Drew had the fourth-best “wOBA” (weighted On-Base Average, a way to measure every aspect of hitting in one metric, accounting for the simple fact that “not all hits are created equal”) and was third in slugging percentage. Let’s just say Iglesias was closer to the bottom and leave it at that.
Do I want Drew to sign with the Tigers? Of course not! Why would I want the Tigers, who took the Red Sox to six games in last year’s ALCS, to sign a productive player? As if Miguel Cabrera, the Justin Verlander-led pitching staff, and the rather pathetic competition in the AL Central division isn’t enough of an advantage for the Tigers. But it would certainly seem to make sense for a team that’s gone all in with major free agent splashes and blockbuster trades to try to win a World Series for its aging owner.
So here’s hoping power agent Scott Boras maintains a hard line on Drew’s value regardless of how rapidly the season is approaching, advising his client to hold out until after the MLB draft if need be and pushing Drew out of the Tigers’ price range. No need to make the Red Sox title defense any harder than it has to be.