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Red Sox get Drew

Former Dodgers outfielder signs for five years, $70M

Posted: Tuesday December 5, 2006 6:15PM; Updated: Wednesday December 6, 2006 1:31AM
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By Jon Heyman, SI.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- J.D. Drew completed his long-talked-about deal with the Boston Red Sox, agreeing to a five-year, $70 million offer (pending a physical) to be their right fielder.

Drew stirred some controversy when he opted out of the $33 million and three years remaining on his Dodgers deal after the season. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti complained that Drew had told a coach he liked Los Angeles and wanted to stay. However, had Drew remained in Los Angeles, he would have forfeited an extra $37 million in guaranteed money that's now coming to him.

Drew batted .283 with 20 home runs and a team-high 100 RBIs last season and has long been cited as one of baseball's more talented players. However, some will question whether his laid-back demeanor is right for Boston.

The contract calls for annual salaries of $14 million, but how much Drew actually makes in the fifth year depends on how many games he plays before then. If he can't meet set levels of games played, some of the final $14 million would be deferred well into the future.

Drew's physical was not expected to take place before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein told reporters that Drew is earmarked for the No. 5 spot in the batting order behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez -- if Ramirez isn't traded.

"With David and Manny, if they want to walk those guys, we want them to pay a steep price," manager Terry Francona said.

Epstein also said Drew's defense would be an asset in Fenway Park's cavernous and quirky right field.

"For a long time, we've talked about having a center fielder in right field," he said. "J.D. Drew's a really good defensive player. Having him in right will help our outfield defense. In one player, we could address two areas of weakness."

The 31-year-old Drew has been dogged by injuries throughout his career, but he played in 146 games for the Dodgers last season. He became a free agent when he opted out of the last three years of his five-year, $55 million contract last month.

The injuries have added to negative perceptions that have followed Drew since the Philadelphia Phillies selected him No. 2 overall in the 1997 draft. He did not sign, went back into the draft and was picked by the St. Louis Cardinals fifth overall the next year.

In the clubhouse, Drew is laid back to the point of being unflappable. Epstein said he was not concerned about whether the passionate Boston fans would read Drew's personality as uncaring.

Trot Nixon, Boston's longtime right fielder, is a free agent. Wily Mo Pena, who played the position when Nixon was hurt last season, had trouble fielding there and would serve as the fourth outfielder.

But that would change if the Red Sox trade Ramirez. They have been shopping the quirky left fielder off and on for several years, but Epstein repeated on Tuesday that he will actively pursue deals for only one more day before going into "listen-only mode."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.