Alcides Escobar is not a member of the Kansas City royals for his offense. In fact, his Rafael Belliard-ian 2013 season seemingly proved that Escobar is in the lineup for one reason only – his defensive ability at shortstop. It is the classic case of whether or not his glove, which has proven to be outstanding, is enough to justify having his inoffensive bat in the lineup. Thus far, the Royals and Ned Yost have said that the runs he has saved are worth more than any hypothetical increase in production that would occur should Escobar be benched.
But why not have the best of both worlds? Why not have a shortstop that can at least hit above Billy Butler‘s listed weight on a consistent basis while playing good to great defense? That is the basis behind the thought that the Royals should consider taking a look at Stephen Drew, who could potentially provide a comparable level of defense while being competent at the plate. According to Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors, the Royals are among the teams that could use Drew’s services the most.
Drew is certainly not the perfect free agent. The Red Sox made him a qualifying offer, so he is tied to draft pick compensation, which the Royals are loathe to give up. Drew also has Scott Boras as an agent, who still seems to feel as though Drew still has the chance for a three year, $30 Million contract despite a lack of teams professing interest. However, should those demands drop to a more reasonable level, such as a three year, $20 Million contract demand, could the Royals then become interested?
Based on Oliver projections for 2014, Drew is expected to be worth approximately two more wins than Alcides Escobar. Drew is expected to play at a 1.9 WAR, with Escobar being worth 0.0. Escobar is expected to hit at a .248/.277/.322 rate, with 20 stolen bases and four home runs. Although Drew is expected to hit for a lower batting average, he outpaces Escobar in virtually every other category, with a projected batting line of .230/.308/.390 and 16 home runs.
Even if those projections prove to be accurate, it would not be worth the additional money to sign Stephen Drew. While Drew would add a bit more power to the lineup, the Royals would still have Escobar making $3 Million this season to serve as a backup shortstop/pinch runner/defensive replacement. Even if they were to find a way to package Escobar in a trade to acquire another piece, Drew just would not be a priority. The Royals have other issues, such as a potential need for another starting pitcher.
If the Royals are looking for upgrades, there are plenty of starting pitchers available that could fill the hole left by Ervin Santana, including Santana himself. Stephen Drew is just not an upgrade that the Royals need.