Few options remain for Drew as market shrinks

Few options remain for Drew as market shrinks
December 10, 2013, 9:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The market for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew would appear to be shrinking, with few options remaining.
     
The St. Louis Cardinals, one potential destination, instead signed Jhonny Peralta. The New York Mets desperately want an upgrade over Ruben Tejada, but, for now, don't have the payroll felxibility to spend on Drew.
     
If the Mets could move second baseman Daniel Murphy and one of their first basemen (Lucas Duda or Ike Davis), that could potentially create some financial room.
     
Beyond that, it's hard to see where Drew fits, especially given that, by virtue of the Red Sox' qualifying offer to him, he'll be attached to draft pick compensation. That won't matter as much to the Mets, who already have forfeited their second-round pick by signing Curtis Granderson (their first-round pick was protcted) and wouldn't be opposed to losing another later pick).
     
The Red Sox' position is the same as it's been since the end of the season: they'd welcome Drew back on a team-friendly deal. And given that there don't seem to be a lot of other options out there for Drew, that can't be ruled out.
     
The Sox haven't met with agent Scott Boras about Drew since arriving here, but general manager Ben Cherington said that will change, likely by Wednesday.
     
"I think we'll probably get together while we're here," said Cherington.
     
But if the Sox bring Drew back -- likely on a two-year deal -- they may have to clear some salary themselves.
     
The team's payroll now figures to be about $174 million (including nearly $4 million in a payout to the Dodgers from the Aug. 2012 deal and another $10 million for insurance). That leaves them just $15 million shy of the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
     
If the Sox were to sign Drew to a slight raise from his $9.5 million from 2013 -- say, $12 million per season -- that would bring them dangerously close to the luxury tax limit and leave them little wiggle room to make any in-season trades.
     
The Sox might be forced to move one of their veteran starters like Ryan Dempster or Jake Peavy to create the payroll flexibility to bring Drew back.