From beat reporter Alex Speier of WEEI.com:
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an interview on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, said that he believes that the Red Sox would be well served to bring back shortstop Stephen Drew in order to preserve the sort of depth on the left side of the infield that proved so beneficial to the team in 2013.
Drew got a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer earlier this week from the Red Sox, but the longtime Scott Boras client is fully expected to decline that offer in search of a multi-year pact.
“Stephen Drew is a very good shortstop,” Farrell told Salk & Holley on Wednesday. “I know there will be people who say what’s the infatuation with him based on the postseason performance. But he’s a darn good shortstop. He had a very strong year for us. He’s a left-handed hitter. Otherwise, we would have an entire right-handed hitting infield, which creates further balance in the lineup going forward,” said Farrell. “I can’t sit here today and say that he’s going to be back here. Personally, I’m hopeful he’s back. It buys us some time, whether [Xander Bogaerts] is the guy going forward next year at shortstop or if he’s at third base.”
That comment leaves a murky future for Will Middlebrooks, who opened the 2013 season as Boston’s starting third baseman but wound up batting just .227 with a .696 OPS in 374 plate appearances.
According to Athletics GM David Forst, Major League Baseball has still not informed teams whether or not the proposed three-batter-minimum rule will be in effect for the 2020 season, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The league and the players’ union came to an agreement back in March regarding a handful of rule changes with the three-batter-minimum rule among them. From the way it was discussed, it seemed like it was set in stone. If Forst is unsure, then the league clearly hasn’t done a good job of communicating that.
Slusser notes that the A’s are operating as if the rule will be in effect, as the club non-tendered lefty Ryan Buchter earlier this week. Buchter has a career 2.86 ERA with 235 strikeouts in 214 innings, but the bulk of that success has come against left-handed hitters. This past season 115 of the 198 total plate appearances (58 percent) against Buchter were taken by fellow lefties. He held lefties to a .728 OPS compared to .904 against righties. As a result, despite Buchter’s overall terrific numbers, the A’s felt the roster spot could be more effectively used with a different player given the proposed rule.
Some teams may not make the same assumption as the A’s. What if a team keeps its lefty specialist(s) on the roster or goes out and acquires such a player, not knowing whether or not the rule is in effect for the upcoming season?
Since it has been brought up publicly, the issue will likely be resolved quickly and we should all have clarity on the rules for the 2020 season.