The strangest rumor of the offseason popped up yesterday, with Jon Heyman connecting the Cubs – specifically the Cubs – to free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. If you missed it, you can read my take on why that’s so strange (for both sides) here. The TL;DR version is that Drew would make sense for the Cubs only as a pure low cost back-up, and the Cubs would make sense for Drew only if they gave him a decent one-year deal and an obvious path to starting (so he could try and rebound his value for a year). The conclusion? Sure, the Cubs might have interest in Drew in the sense that they would check in on just about any free agent at this stage to see if they want to take a cheap deal.
This morning, Joel Sherman reports that, yes, the Cubs are among the teams interested in Drew, together with the Blue Jays, A’s, White Sox, Angels, and Yankees. But those teams are interested in Drew as a starting second baseman (each of those non-Cubs teams could fit there) and/or as a back-up shortstop (seems like that would have to be the Cubs).* If true, which team makes the least sense for Drew, unless they pay him a relatively huge salary? That’d be the Cubs, and I can’t see them paying Drew a huge salary to be a back-up, especially coming off his ugly 2014 season.
Speaking of which, Sherman reports that Drew’s asking price right now is in the $9 to $10 million range for a one-year deal. Unsurprisingly, teams are balking at that, given that you don’t know what you’re going to be getting. Was 2014 a flukey year where Drew’s season was derailed by the late start? Or, at 31-going-on-32, was 2014 the start of the decline?
Long story short: maybe the Cubs do have interest in Drew as a shortstop back-up/infield reserve, which would be a solid addition (especially if there’s a chance the Cubs trade an infielder, or if Javier Baez needs to go to AAA to start the year). But that interest is almost certainly at a very low price (making Drew not only a solid back-up addition for the Cubs, but also a nice, cheap upside gamble), and it remains difficult to see why Drew would choose the Cubs over other interested suitors who can offer him a much clearer shot at starting. Unless, that is, the Cubs offer him a huge chunk of money … but why would they do that?
*(It’s conceivable that the Cubs are, like the other teams, looking at Drew as a possible starter at second base (Sherman’s language actually reads that way), but I doubt it. That would be an admission, already, that either (1) Javier Baez will start the year at AAA, or (2) Starlin Castro will be traded this offseason, as well as an admission that Tommy La Stella’s role on the Cubs is strangely unclear. Plus you throw in Luis Valbuena, who could slide over to second base when Kris Bryant comes up … I just don’t see Drew coming in as a starter for the Cubs at second base absent a huge, roster-shaking trade on the horizon. That, too, is possible, but definitionally unlikely.)