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  • Market Inefficiency: Creativity Needed

    Right now, one of the thirty best shortstops in the game, coming off a championship season - who should be earning a multi-million dollar salary and starting on a daily basis - is cooling his heels without a team. Other, inferior players occupy starting spots on teams across the league, including, most obviously, the Twins.

    By now, most folks are aware of the circumstances that have forced Stephen Drew to sit out the opening part of this season. His signing is attached to a draft pick compensation, which has dried up his free agency market. Any team signing him would lose a valuable draft pick in the June draft; either their first round pick, or their second rounder if their first round pick is one of the first ten. If he is signed, Drew's former team, the Red Sox, stands to gain an extra pick in the June draft--a supplemental pick between the first and second round. But Boston only nets this pick if a team signs Drew before June 4.

    In recent years, MLB teams have grown to increasingly value early round draft picks, and therefore have been increasingly loathe to give them up in exchange for signing quality free agents (who aren't at the most elite levels). This year, the draft is considered extremely strong, making it even less likely for teams to sacrifice their first (or second) round pick.

    The presumed outcome of the Drew situation is that after June 4, he will quickly be signed by a team. By waiting until after the draft, the team will therefore avoid forfeiting a draft pick. This outcome has a clear negative outcome for Boston - it means Boston will lose out on that supplemental pick they stood to gain.

    The Twins have an obvious incentive not to sign Drew. They lose their second round pick by signing him. And this makes sense, as the Twins have relied on developing a strong farm system to get their organization back on track after several down years.

    But the Twins also have incentives to sign him before June 4:
    1.a. They are fielding a sub-par SS in Pedro Florimon. The Twins' overall early 2014 performance has surprised many. This early success has led to more optimism about 2014, an optimism that wasn't there for most at the beginning of the season.
    b. Improving their weakest position, SS, would improve their overall likelihood of success this year.
    2. Come June 4, there may be several suitors for Drew's services, when the draft pick sacrifice evaporates. It may be very hard for the Twins to succeed in landing Drew when faced with competition to sign him.

    Therefore, given the various incentives for the Twins and the Red Sox, it is in both of their interests to work out a deal before June 4. As we know, trading draft picks from the coming draft is not allowed. So to make this work, the Twins and Red Sox would need to work out a trade of players in their systems. They need to trade some prospects.

    The question is what kind of trade would be fair. For Boston, they should be willing to trade anyone who is valued less than that supplemental pick they stand to gain. For the Twins, they should be willing to accept anything from Boston that is roughly equivalent (or slightly less so) to the second round pick they would sacrifice.

    The Twins would also need to give something back in the trade. Therefore, the quality of what Boston would give up could be increased, because they would also be getting a (lesser) prospect back from the Twins.

    Here is what I suggest:

    First, the Twins come to a verbal agreement with Stephen Drew, dependent on working out a deal with the Red Sox. Then, the Twins trade Luke Bard for Anthony Ranaudo and complete the deal with Drew. The Twins lose their second round pick, but get back a quality arm. I'd prefer Henry Owens or Matt Barnes as the return, or Trey Ball (as a player to be named later, since he can't be traded until after June), but I am suspicious that these would be too far of a stretch.

    I think this would be a creative solution to an inefficiency in the market the current draft system has created. It would get Drew playing, as he deserves to be, it gets the Twins a better shortstop. (While there is debate over Florimon's worth, I don't hear anyone arguing that Pedro Florimon is a better overall shortstop than Drew). It lets Boston get the supplemental pick they might otherwise forego and it allows the Twins to get something in return for sacrificing their second round pick.
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Good writeup. Interesting idea.

      I get frustrated with the Twins' lack of effort at finding a great shortstop considering the importance of the position. I guess I'd get a little more jazzed about adding Drew if I actually thought he was really good. He hit pretty well last year (while striking out a ton) but the two years before he didn't. And he's already 31.

      Spending a bunch of money, and giving up prospects/picks, to acquire Drew is certainly one way to improve the position, but if we're talking about creativity, I think there are better long-term solutions to be found.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I realize that next offseason there will be several SS available in Free Agency and the cost to sign Drew is a little high. But by not signing him they are saying that this season is a lost cause. as the Twins do have the money available to sign him. How much do they expect to save by waiting? I know the 2nd round pick is valuable but it is not likely to be that much more than what Drew brings us.
    1. twinscowboysbulls's Avatar
      twinscowboysbulls -
      IMO it's a waste now to sign him. You've already gone without for a month. May as well wait another month, hope were .500 and you can promise him the starting SS job. Won't lose the 2nd pick, right? Or do you lose 2016 pick then? 2nd pick could be a guy like Harrison(freak athlete) so might be a good year to have that 2nd pick.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Good writeup. Interesting idea.

      I get frustrated with the Twins' lack of effort at finding a great shortstop considering the importance of the position. I guess I'd get a little more jazzed about adding Drew if I actually thought he was really good. He hit pretty well last year (while striking out a ton) but the two years before he didn't. And he's already 31.

      Spending a bunch of money, and giving up prospects/picks, to acquire Drew is certainly one way to improve the position, but if we're talking about creativity, I think there are better long-term solutions to be found.
      I would be open to other (or maybe even any) approaches to finding a long term solution. But this is a potential short/medium upgrade there for the taking. I won't argue he is a great solution, just an upgrade. If the Twins want, they can make it happen. However, I am suspicious that if they wait until after June 4, they will lose out on him.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      So the Twins should be willing to sign Drew for market rate.... but only if they get a modest pitching prospect too? If they were that close to signing him, I am pretty sure the Red Sox would say "good luck" as would Boras and Drew.

      Based on his 2013 salary and performance, Drew should get 2/20 minimum on the open market, probably more. The value of the 2nd round pick *might* be $6 mil, I think? It really shouldn't be much of an impediment.

      The bigger impediment is almost certainly Boras' demands. I wonder if he is still looking for Peralta/Bourn type deal, in which case a little side deal with Boston means nothing. Or the impediment could be the Twins demands -- if they are only willing to pay Drew like Nishioka money, that is obviously a nonstarter too.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      The obvious question here: if Drew is that good, how come the Tigers, who are clearly in "win now mode," have not signed him? It's not like they have a high first round pick, and are willing to open up the bank.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      The obvious question here: if Drew is that good, how come the Tigers, who are clearly in "win now mode," have not signed him? It's not like they have a high first round pick, and are willing to open up the bank.
      I wouldn't read it so much as a knock on Drew as a player, but probably his contract demands. Boras doesn't like to adjust down for the market. It is probably magnified now that the season is underway if Drew/Boras still want to be paid as if 2014 is a full season.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Good writeup. Interesting idea.

      I get frustrated with the Twins' lack of effort at finding a great shortstop considering the importance of the position. I guess I'd get a little more jazzed about adding Drew if I actually thought he was really good. He hit pretty well last year (while striking out a ton) but the two years before he didn't. And he's already 31.

      Spending a bunch of money, and giving up prospects/picks, to acquire Drew is certainly one way to improve the position, but if we're talking about creativity, I think there are better long-term solutions to be found.
      This is been the problem with Drew all along. He is going to be pretty expensive, will need to be signed for awhile, and I agree with Nick-he hasn't been all that good. So the most likely outcome is you tie yourself to a solution who is likely to be among the poorest big league shortstops. You are mostly preventing yourself from seeking a better outside solution and it will be almost equally difficult to find out about a potential internal solution(such as Santana) should one present itself.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I have been on board with acquiring a near-ready shortstop from an organization that has SS depth in their system. I don't know which minor leaguers would appeal to other teams or if anyone is interested in what the Twins have on their 25-man roster. With the emergence of Colabello and Kubel and the AAA excellence of Parmelee (walkoff homer today), the Twins have depth at DH/corner OF and in the bullpen.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      I suspect that such a trade would go against the CBA and the compensation plan for free agents. A one sided trade with a tacit agreement to conduct another transaction would likely draw attention from the commissioner's office and be voided, and/or another team who wants Drew after the signing deadline would file a grievance.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      History does not appear to be kind to the career of most over 30 SS. Money and years are the only 2 factors keeping anyone from signing Drew. Boras has overvalued his client. Boras continues not to budge from his demands. The end result is that he cost his client money.

      Boston offering the QO gave Boras the impression his client was worth that much. It was a gamble by Boston. Drew may have been worth that much yo them, but in the end I think it was a shot at Boras. Boras did not get his client the big money offer. Boston gave Boras the impression that Drew was worth more than what he was.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Ok, for starters don't feel sorry for Drew. Correct me if I am wrong but didn't he have to turn down a $14 mil offer from the Sox for the draft pick to attach to him? 2nd, I was on board with signing him because I think he would be an improvement but he really isn't that great a hitter. .253 with 10 homer power. I would like him but wouldn't love him. The creativity I was looking for earlier in the year would be to trade Sano for a top shortstop prospect . The ratings that showed Buxton and Sano in the top 5 prospects in all of baseball had two shortstops in the top 5 as well. Xander Bogaerts for example in which case Boston could have kept Drew and inserted Sano and we would have Xander to go along with Plouffe. Of course that kind of trade is off the table since Sano got hurt.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Drew came into this season ranked 23rd in projected WAR among shortstops. That makes him an upgrade for several teams including the Twins.

      However, at his age the ranking should not be expected to improve in 2015 and 2016. At some point he will need to move off of SS defensively without the bat to be a regular anywhere else. N one wants to pay for that. The Twins certainly have experience signing guys in their early 30s and watching them decline I. The second or third year of the commitment.

      He fits so much better on a team with a starting pitching staff that makes them real contenders and a need this year at SS. That describes the Tigers a lot better than the Twins. My guess is that he hasn't been willing to listen to one year offers.

      It is hard to blame him. A few years back teams were willing to pay based on a strong previous season that wasn't in line with his career. Teams are smarter now in their projections. They know better than to overpay or trade for a player based on a single outlying season.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      I've been in favor our signing Drew since the World Series came to a close last winter, and I still believe it to be a good idea for the team, even knowing that Drew will decline into 2015/2016. Maybe Santana can become consistent enough at SS to take over the position late in 2015 or by 2016, but he needs work, and he needs to continue to hit at AAA and then at the MLB level, which is no easy task. Drew is a proven commodity. And yes, he has a history of injuries, but the Twins have plenty of replacement level-ish SS candidates (Flo, Escobar, Nunez... etc).

      I don't know that you can make a deal witht he Sox dependent on a deal with Drew, to offset the draft pick loss, but a 2nd round pick is likely worth less than the improvment Drew gives the team. I don't know that Drew makes this team a playoff contender, and I could easily convince myself that nothing short of a Kershaw type ace could get this team to that contender level, but Drew makes this team better, even at 3/36.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Having a SS like Drew and getting Meyer into the rotation will make us contenders this year.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pleiss View Post
      I've been in favor our signing Drew since the World Series came to a close last winter, and I still believe it to be a good idea for the team, even knowing that Drew will decline into 2015/2016. Maybe Santana can become consistent enough at SS to take over the position late in 2015 or by 2016, but he needs work, and he needs to continue to hit at AAA and then at the MLB level, which is no easy task. Drew is a proven commodity. And yes, he has a history of injuries, but the Twins have plenty of replacement level-ish SS candidates (Flo, Escobar, Nunez... etc).

      I don't know that you can make a deal witht he Sox dependent on a deal with Drew, to offset the draft pick loss, but a 2nd round pick is likely worth less than the improvment Drew gives the team. I don't know that Drew makes this team a playoff contender, and I could easily convince myself that nothing short of a Kershaw type ace could get this team to that contender level, but Drew makes this team better, even at 3/36.
      I have seen this post in various forms all winter. You seem to be conceding that Drew may not be able to hold off even what is likely to be a fairly mediocre shortstop like Santana in a year or so, that Drew is unlikely to remain healthy, and even if he does he is not going to much more than mediocre himself. So why exactly do you want Drew? It doesn't seem you think that Drew is so much of an improvement on Florimon, Escobar or Nunez that he will make a dramatic improvement on the Twins or the shortstop position. I would be very surprised if that were the case.

      So exactly what does Drew bring to the Twins that we should want him? I personally believe that adding Drew might actually get in the way of a long term solution, but I do understand that many of you don't feel that way. I know the Twins have money, and I am aware that the fail rate of 2nd round picks is high enough that losing the pick shouldn't be a huge factor. My problem is that I just don't think Drew is likely to be good enough, for long enough to be worth the cost. Personally, I would just go with Florimon until someone shows enough to move him aside. Or failing that, make a trade this offseason.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      The NBA does sign and trade deals frequently. Is there a reason why Boston's GM and TR/RA can't come to a compensatory trade? If the deal goes through, the Twins send prospects X,Y and Z to Boston, in exchange for Drew, and TR then negotiates the contract with Boras and Boston GM, Boston GM signs the deal and then Twins and Red Sox make the trade.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      This is been the problem with Drew all along. He is going to be pretty expensive, will need to be signed for awhile, and I agree with Nick-he hasn't been all that good. So the most likely outcome is you tie yourself to a solution who is likely to be among the poorest big league shortstops. You are mostly preventing yourself from seeking a better outside solution and it will be almost equally difficult to find out about a potential internal solution(such as Santana) should one present itself.
      Your bolded sentences don't follow, logically speaking. How does a SS sign an expensive contract to some random team if he's "likely to be among the poorest big league shortstops"? When healthy, he overall is in the top third of SS, as demonstrated in 2013. As we've discussed in countless other threads, it's Drew's health that is in question, not his ability as a quality hitting SS- and rarest of valuable middle infield rarities, hits lefthanded.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      Having a SS like Drew and getting Meyer into the rotation will make us contenders this year.
      I like your optimism, but respectfully disagree. We're a centerfielder and a starting pitcher on top of Meyer and Drew away from contending.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      I have seen this post in various forms all winter. You seem to be conceding that Drew may not be able to hold off even what is likely to be a fairly mediocre shortstop like Santana in a year or so, that Drew is unlikely to remain healthy, and even if he does he is not going to much more than mediocre himself. So why exactly do you want Drew? It doesn't seem you think that Drew is so much of an improvement on Florimon, Escobar or Nunez that he will make a dramatic improvement on the Twins or the shortstop position. I would be very surprised if that were the case.

      So exactly what does Drew bring to the Twins that we should want him? I personally believe that adding Drew might actually get in the way of a long term solution, but I do understand that many of you don't feel that way. I know the Twins have money, and I am aware that the fail rate of 2nd round picks is high enough that losing the pick shouldn't be a huge factor. My problem is that I just don't think Drew is likely to be good enough, for long enough to be worth the cost. Personally, I would just go with Florimon until someone shows enough to move him aside. Or failing that, make a trade this offseason.
      You simply can't go with Florimon any longer.....his hitting is epically bad....epically. Permanent psychologically epic damage unplayably bad.

      And why make a trade in the offseason, which would certainly be costly, when all you "trade" is money (and a chance to recoup the pick in the compensation draft should Drew work out well). Just one lower level example here: trading for Didi Gregorius, who got beat out for the job in Arizona, would cost you Josmil Pinto, do we really want to go that route?

      The Twins may or may not have their SS in the organization, but that consideration should be separate to stabilizing the situation now, and in the intermediate term of 1-2 more years with Drew.
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