The Boston Red Sox have come to an agreement with free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew on a one-year, $9.5 million contract, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, further thinning the already thin free-agent market for middle infielders. The deal also includes up to $500,000 more in performance incentives.
Drew, 29, split his time in 2012 between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics, helping the latter in their late-season run for the AL West title. Drew had a $10 million mutual contract option for the 2013 season, but the A's rejected it with the hope of re-signing him to a cheaper deal.
The lefty hitter has had two consecutive down seasons -- hitting just .238/.313/.373 with 12 home runs in 165 games over the last two years -- but much of that can be attributed to a serious ankle injury suffered in July 2011. Though his power numbers have yet to resurface, Drew hit much better as the 2012 season wore on and the Red Sox must hope that bodes well for next season.
Drew will man shortstop ahead of the young Jose Iglesias, who is a dynamic defensive player but has struggled with the bat. Xander Bogaerts, Boston's top prospect, is also a shortstop but he is believed to be some time away from the big-league club, so Drew will help bridge the gap until Bogaerts arrives.
Jason Bartlett, Ronny Cedeno and one of the Alex Gonzalezes are the only remaining recognizable shortstops on the free-agent market. Their names do not really inspire much confidence for those still on the market for middle-infield help (like the Athletics and Yankees). The Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera is still a possible trade target, but the price will be steep.