Posted: Saturday November 25, 2006 9:07PM; Updated: Saturday November 25, 2006 9:29PM
By Jon Heyman, SI.com
The Boston Red Sox are closing on a deal for free-agent outfielder J.D. Drew, SI.com has learned.
Drew became an instant hit on the free-agent market after stirring controversy in Los Angeles by opting out of the $33 million and three years remaining on his Dodgers deal, as his unusual contract allowed. The Rangers, Indians, Orioles, Giants and Padres were among teams who expressed an interest in signing Drew, but several major league executives who were bidding on Drew said Saturday he is ticketed to Boston. A deal could be announced within a week.
It wasn't immediately known how much Boston will pay Drew, but it is presumed by the executives who lost out for Drew to be well in excess of the money he left in Los Angeles. Drew is beloved by statistical aficionados who cite his consistently high on-base and slugging percentages (he has a career .393 on-base percentage and .512 slugging percentage). However, he has come under fire for being injury prone; his 146 games in 2006 was a career high and he's averaged 118 games played over his eight full seasons.
The impending signing of Drew likely signals the end of Trot Nixon's career in Boston and provides needed outfield insurance should Boston trade one of its incumbent outfielders -- Wily Mo Pena, Coco Crisp or even Manny Ramirez, who've all been mentioned as trade possibilities. Ramirez has requested a trade and suddenly looks like a bargain in this red-hot players market, with just $38 million and two years remaining on his Red Sox contract.
The Drew deal will be the second between Boston and agent Scott Boras this winter (following a two-year, $4 million contract for Alex Cora), an indication the parties have a good working relationship as they embark on the most difficult negotiation of all, the one involving superstar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Boston paid a $51.1 million posting fee to the Seibu Lions for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka.
Drew, who turned 31 this week, hit .283 with 20 home runs and 100 RBIs for the Dodgers in 2006.