Perhaps this might be one of the more far-fetched ideas for this Hot Stove series, but Stephen Drew could be an asset for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014 and maybe years beyond.
It’s not implausible to think that Stephen Drew could switch to third base. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
You might be asking yourself, “well why would we want Drew when we have Jean Segura?” It’s simple really, transition Drew to third base. It’s no secret that current third baseman Aramis Ramirez had a multitude of issues in the previous season and for the money he gets paid, the Brewers need to try and trade him. Even if they weren’t to get much in return for Ramirez, it would certainly free up some much needed salary space to play with.
Drew expressed his interest in being an everyday player and if third base were to open up, he would fit in well with Milwaukee. He’s a smart defensive player and throughout the recent history of baseball, we’ve seen shortstops transition to third base, namely Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, so Drew could be the next one. Even looking at the third baseman free-agent market, there isn’t a lot to choose from, so Drew could find more suitors if he were to make himself more versatile.
For the bulk of his career, Drew played with the Arizona Diamondbacks where he severely went under the radar as a shortstop. Drew offensively provides some pop in his bat, having a career ISO (isolated power) of .171, but also has a knack for getting on base with an on-base percentage of .329. Since 2011, his last full season with the Diamondbacks, Drew has seen an increase in his walks from 8.5 percent to 10.8 this past season. He’s someone who just finds ways to get on-base and something a Brewers’ line-up full of power hitters would love to work with.
This year with the Boston Red Sox, Drew hit .253/.333/.433 with 13 homers, 67 RBIs and scored 57 runs. While his average has slightly declined in the past couple seasons, it’s not so much of a drastic drop like Rickie Weeks‘ disappearing average. However, Drew did strikeout more this season at 24.8 percent of the time, which is the highest of his eight-year career. His high strikeout rate may be correlated to his rise in O-Swing percent (swinging outside of the strikezone) from 2012’s 19.7 to this year’s 24.6 percent.
With the glove, Drew is a rather average fielder. He did see a tremendous rise in UZR (-7.0 to 5.3) this year and only committed eight errors in 1093.1 innings played. His DRS (defensive runs saved) of -2 isn’t anything to write home about, but you have to wonder if a switch to third would change that for him. Third base is the hot corner so it would be interesting to see how he carries himself at that position.
The one thing that may actually turn off a lot of teams from Drew was that the Red Sox gave him a qualifying offer, but it’s been suggested he may decline the offer. What the qualifying offer does is that it makes any team he would sign with, forfeit their first round pick in next season’s draft. The Brewers are no strangers to this as they surrendered their first round pick this year by signing Kyle Lohse. Also, MLB Trade Rumors points out that Drew’s agent Scott Boras could see a deal for five years, which might just put the Brewers out of range for him.
If it were possible for such a deal to occur, Drew would be a nice addition to the team. He’s only 30-years-old and produces on both sides of the ball. He certainly wouldn’t be a permanent solution at third base, but he could be there long enough for the Brew Crew to tinker around in the minors and find a third baseman.