Nationals Baseball: Hey where's Stephen Drew?

Friday, January 06, 2017

Hey where's Stephen Drew?

Aren't we supposed to have Stephen Drew back by now?

You may have forgotten but Stephen Drew was not unimportant for the Nats last year. He hit .266 with good pop (8 homers and 11 doubles in 143 ABs) with reasonable defense.  He spelled Danny at short, Rendon at 3rd and Murphy at 2nd, ended up playing 2nd when Murphy's butt got hurt and was the teams most effective pinch hitter.*

So why isn't he back?

Well the last news we heard - 2 weeks ago - was that he could end up with a starting position somewhere.  This makes sense as he would be a better option at SS or 2B then some of the players currently manning those positions. Probably not even half, but some and really just a handful is enough. It would be more playing time and more money than the Nats would dish out.

But this protracted hunt by Drew is hurting the Nats in two ways. First, if he doesn't come back it leaves Difo as the top bench option for the infield. There's no good reason to think Wilmer will be that good next year. Could he? Sure. It's the bench. You have limited at bats. Weird things happen in limited at bats.  In 2012 the Nats got much better performances than one would expect from Lombo, Bernadina, Moore, and Chad Tracy.  But you have to start with the expectation and the expectation for Difo is not great. Last year in AA Difo hit .259, with limited patience and no power. He did hit .276 in the majors, but it's hard to believe 66 PAs as opposed to almost a full season in AA. Plus his AA season corresponds with what he has done for most of his minor league career.  He had a bit of a breakout in A-ball in 2014 followed by an impressive start in High-A in 2015, but by all appearances that impressive start was a fluke of sample size. He's not quite old yet - but he's almost there which means his chances of surprising are growing smaller everyday. Short of it - the bench is worse with Difo there in place of Drew.

The second way this hurts the Nats is something that I presume. I'm guessing we haven't had any movement on the relief front because Rizzo is unsure of his budget. If Drew comes back, it might mean they have only a couple million and he needs to dumpster dive or trade. It might mean they have nothing. If he doesn't come back than surely they have at least some money to spend. Whether that means bargain hunting or competing for the names left on the market I don't know but it means they don't have nothing. That alone would have me expect a signing or move or some bullpen activity.

My guess is we hear nothing from the Nats camp about relief pitchers until Drew is signed or until that last week in January. That's about as long as you can wait on it with pitchers and catchers coming up. You don't want to be the one left on the side of the dance floor or whatever.

So hurry up Drew and either come back or go.  The Nats need to move on and they can't until you decide.

*He had the same number of PH homers and one fewer hit than  Heisey in 18 fewer PH situations.

11 comments:

Chas R said...

Yeah, it does seem they are likely waiting on Drew. Fortunately, there is still ALOT of FAs still available, both RPs and potential bench infielders, such as Valbuena and Descalso. Regardless of what happens with Drew, there should still be some FA options for the bench and pen.

Miles Treacy said...

I'm sure he's holding out to see if/when/where Dozier ends up. If LA doesn't land Dozier they'll pounce on Drew real quick I'm sure....

I'd like to have him back though!

G Cracka X said...

What do you recommend, Harper? Would you re-sign him to the bench, and if so for how much?

Josh Higham said...

I'm not Harper, but I'd give him a small raise from last year in a heartbeat. $4 million on a one year contract, maybe 7 for a two-year deal. Not sure any bench player is worth more than that given the pressing need for bullpen help.

Deacon Drake said...

Drew has to know that the Nats backup position comes with plenty of opportunity. Trea Turner has never played a full season (an is a likely CF replacement to push Eaton to RF/LF is either Harper/Werth get hurt), Rendon is hurt often enough to require a back up plan, Murphy is better suited to be playing first base, and Zimmerman will hopefully spend 2/3rds of the season on the DL or the bench because he kills the offense.

He isn't worth Murphy money, but 2 and $10 for 350 ABs/yr is fair if he picks up from last season.

Josh Higham said...

@Deacon Drake, I hadn't actually considered how many at bats he could actually get. I guess that's probably a big part of why he's moving so slowly. You have to think some scrub team has offered him a starting spot already, but he could end up playing a whole lot for a playoff team in DC if the right (injury prone) players get hurt.

John C. said...

I wouldn't mind if the Nats brought Drew back; the move would certainly make some sense. But be careful what you wish for; I'd hesitate to put very much credence into the idea that Drew suddenly became a viable starting player. Until last season Drew had been pretty much terrible since 2013. He's one of the worst baserunners on the team (only CRob and Ramos were worse last year) and is no great shakes defensively either (last year he managed the trifecta of grading out poorly at 2b, SS and 3b). If the bat slips back towards his terrible production from 2014-15, then he would be a complete waste of space - and an expensive one, if the Nats ante up to make sure that they land him. Bottom line, as a bench player Drew could easily turn into a more expensive, less athletic version of Chad Tracy II. I suspect that league-wide skepticism could be a major factor in his remaining unemployed for this long.

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NotBobby said...

Harper - so Scherzer has a broken knuckle. Says he pitched through it in 2016 but will miss WBC. Are broken knuckles on pitchers a thing that happens often? Any reason to really be worried???

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