Re-Signing Stephen Drew Could Prompt Will Middlebrooks Trade for Red Sox

Drew RumorsStephen Drew is regarded as the best shortstop on the free agent market,  but there is debate about whether he will get the multi-year offer he is seeking or return to the Boston Red Sox on a one-year or two-year contract.

At the MLB Winter Meetings on Wednesday, Drew’s agent Scott Boras said that the 30-year-old veteran of eight big league seasons has multi-year offers from other teams but those clubs want to see how the market unfolds before finalizing a deal.

According to multiple media accounts, the Red Sox met with Boras about Drew on Wednesday. The Red Sox are reportedly interested in re-signing the left-handed hitting shortstop, who batted .253 with a .777 OPS, 13 home runs, 67 RBI and eight triples in 2013.

If Drew does return to Boston, that could signal that the team will trade 25-year-old third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The Red Sox are high on top prospect Xander Bogaerts. Shortstop is the 21-year-old Bogaerts’ natural position, but he has the athleticism to effectively fill the starting third baseman’s role and played well at the hot corner last September and during the postseason.

Red Sox NewsThe Red Sox believe Middlebrooks has 30 home run potential, but his lack of plate discipline is contrary to what the club preaches.

Boston re-signed first baseman Mike Napoli to a three-year contract, so if Drew returns and the team inserts Bogaerts in the starting role at third base, there will be no position for Middlebrooks.

The Red Sox also have another promising third base prospect in 22-year-old Garin Cecchini, who could eventually be moved to left field.

Cecchini batted .322 with a .915 OPS between advanced Single-A and Double-A last season, and he has advanced pitch recognition at the plate.

Though Middlebrooks struggled for much of 2013, batting just .227 with a .696 OPS and 98 strikeouts in 374 plate appearances, he did slug 17 home runs and has trade value.

He could interest a team like the Miami Marlins, which have added catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and first baseman Garrett Jones this offseason but still need a third baseman. Speedy outfielder Jake Marisnick, who was a top prospect in the Blue Jays organization and is 22, could interest the Red Sox.