Not long after the Detroit Tigers traded for Angels utility man Andrew Romine to help to fill the gaping hole in the left side of their infield left by the season ending injury to Jose Igelsais, it appeared the door had closed on the team's interest in free agent shortstop Stephen Drew.
The door just might not be fully closed. John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press is reporting sources close to Drew claim he is willing to sign a one-year contract with the Tigers.
The 31-year-old infielder is represented by agent Scott Boras, who turned down a $14 million qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox. Drew has been desperately looking for a multi-year deal, but with the start of the regular season less than two weeks away, he has yet to find a taker for his services.
For the Tigers to take on Drew, a one-year contract would cost the Tigers at least the aforementioned $14 million for the season. Worse, if the Tigers signed Drew before June, they would also give up their first-round pick in this year's amateur draft as compensation. For a franchise already considered to be lacking in high level prospects, losing their first-round selection would be a blow to the minor league system. The Tigers' other option is to wait until June before signing Drew. There would then be no compensation needed.
If Drew were to agree to a one-year deal, he would reportedly wait until the day after the season begins to sign. Doing so would ensure he would be an unrestricted free agent who would not cost a 2015 draft pick when signed. Otherwise Drew would find himself in the exact same situation next off season, with the team singing him for 2015 required to give up their draft pick.
The 31-year-old Drew is a left-handed hitter with an excellent defensive reputation. As the primary Red Sox shortstop in 2013, Drew hit .253/.333/.443, a .777 OPS with 13 home runs and 67 RBIs.
Drew would be an upgrade over the the Tigers' current shortstop platoon of Andrew Romine/Danny Worth. But do the Tigers believe Drew is an upgrade worth a $14 million hit on a team with a payroll pushing the envelope at $160 million? Only GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch know the answer, and they aren't talking.
When asked about Drew on Thursday, the always reticent Dombrowski declined to comment.