When we say that you have to regard all rumors with a suspicious eye, because you don’t know exactly how or why it entered the public sphere, this is pretty much your case study.
Jon Heyman reports that, among the teams showing interest in free agent shortstop Stephen Drew: the Chicago Cubs.
I’m fairly suspicious of this rumor for at least a couple reasons:
- Drew, 31, is coming off of a disastrous year and may be finding his market very slow to develop. Drew is a Scott Boras client, and leaking this kind of big-market-team-is-interested rumor to Heyman later in the offseason would be right out of Boras’s playbook. I’m not saying that’s what has happened, but you have to at least raise the possibility.
- The timing of the Cubs being connected to a shortstop on the Monday after a weekend filled with ugly reports about their own shortstop cannot be a coincidence. No, I’m not saying the Cubs have interest in Drew because of anything related to Castro. Instead, I’m saying this feels like distorted information, or downright misinformation, being spread at a time when it could disadvantage the Cubs (or advantage the Drew market).
Setting those aside, the rumor is strange because of the poor baseball fit. After his down 2014 year – in which he started late after failing to get the kind of deal he was seeking in free agency – you would think Drew’s number one goal in free agency would be to land with a team where he could showcase his skills at shortstop in the hopes of a significant free agent score after 2015. He’s got a good story to sell, after all: he had some injuries and then the flukey 2014 season, but, in his one healthy year during that stretch, he was excellent. A bounceback in 2015, and boom, he could hit pay dirt.
… so why would Drew want to come to the Cubs, where he would almost certainly have to be a bench guy? Sure, maybe the Cubs have interest in him in that role (if something were to happen to Castro or Javier Baez, there wouldn’t be an obvious shortstop back-up on the roster), or maybe they want to stockpile another middle infielder just in case they make some kind of trade later in the offseason. But I can’t see Drew wanting to go anywhere that he doesn’t see a very clear path to starts at shortstop – there are plenty of needy teams out there, much less well-stocked than the Cubs – unless he’s getting some kind of huge contract (for a back-up, I mean). And why would the Cubs pay Drew big money to be yet another infield back-up?
In other words, the kind of deal that would make sense for the Cubs here – short-term, low guaranteed money – is the kind of deal Drew would be seeking only from a team where he can see he’s got a clear shot to get regular starts. Right now, and absent dramatic roster changes, I don’t see that on the Cubs.
Even if Drew’s market is so perilous that he can find nothing but back-up job offers, it still seems like he could find a better fit than a team with so many quality shortstop options as is.
It’s plausible that the Cubs could look at Drew as a pure bat, and his peripherals really aren’t too bad over the past few years. But he’s basically a platoon guy at this point (hits righties well, is terrible against lefties), and why would you sign a guy only to remove his most valuable feature (the ability to play decent defense at shortstop)? And, although I’m sure Drew could play other positions adequately, it’s not something he’s yet done in his career.
Absent more information – much more – this whole thing doesn’t make sense beyond the Cubs doing the kind of due diligence they would do with any and all players unsigned at this point. Does the player have interest in a cheap, one-year deal with the Cubs? No? OK, moving on.
So, while I wouldn’t say this must be a totally bogus rumor, I’d be very surprised if it went anywhere. If it did, you’d really have to wonder what else was going on behind the scenes with the Cubs’ roster. As comprised, the only role that makes a lick of sense – utility bench guy – doesn’t seem like the role Drew would be going for.