The MLB 2014 free agent market has been a strange one, and it’s not over yet, even with the 2014 MLB season more than 25 percent in the books. But it took one step closer to closure Tuesday as holdout shortstop Stephen Drew signed with Boston Red Sox — the same team he played for last year, and the same team which offered him a one-year $14.1 million deal in the offseason, only to have Drew reject those terms.
So what kind of contract did Drew get from the Red Sox this time? If you answered, “the exact same one they offered him the first time,” you’d be exactly right. Actually, because that $14 million total will have to be pro-rated for the remainder of the 2014 MLB season, Drew will collect about $10 million from the Red Sox this year.
The bottom line: Stephen Drew’s 2014 MLB holdout, lasting nearly two months into the regular season plus all of Spring Training accomplished nothing, except to make him $4 million less rich than he would have been.
Drew’s agent Scott Boras — who also represents Kendrys Morales, now the last unsigned free agent in MLB — advised Drew not to take the original $14.1 million deal from the Red Sox, believing that Drew would command a multi-year deal from another club.
But news of that type of attractive offer never materialized. But rather than blame his own miscalculation for costing Stephen Drew $4 million and more than a quarter of the season, Boras shifts responsibility to the MLB free agent system.
“The system they’ve been dealt has basically prevented them from free agency,” said Boras of his two holdout clients, prior to the signing of Stephen Drew. “Like any players, they want to play baseball. But they’re also looking at the long-term aspect of their careers. This system has placed them not in free agency, but it’s placed them in a jail.”
Boras believes that the MLB system of forcing teams to give up valuable draft picks in exchange for free agent signings has created that “jail.” But the fact is, if Drew had waited until after the MLB draft June 5-7, the draft pick compensation requirement would expire.
The arrival of Stephen Drew could be good news for the struggling Red Sox, who are currently fourth in the American League East with a 20-24 record and have lost five games in a row after never losing more than three straight in 2013 where the finished as MLB World Series champions.