From Alex Speier, the Red Sox beat reporter at WEEI.com:
According to multiple industry sources, with the Red Sox on the verge of starting spring training games, the team has not been engaged in substantive talks since the opening of camp with shortstop Stephen Drew. The team has not ruled out categorically the possibility of re-signing the shortstop, but it views such a scenario as unlikely at this time — in the same way, for instance, that team officials imagined hypothetical scenarios where they became engaged on a free agent such as Ubaldo Jimenez if his market absolutely cratered.
Jimenez was tied to draft pick compensation, like Drew, but wound up landing a four-year, $50 million free agent contract last week from the Orioles. That kind of deal isn’t coming for Drew, who may wait until after the June draft to re-explore the market. The Red Sox don’t have to forfeit a draft pick to bring him back, but they seem content with Will Middlebrooks at third base and top prospect Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.
Drew, 30, hit .253/.333/.443 with 13 homers and 67 RBI in 124 games last year for the World Series champs. He was critical of MLB’s draft pick compensation system last week, telling CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, “Our union has been really good. But I think we really have to look at this. Is this really good for free agency?”
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.