The Yankees' signing of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was one of the biggest moves of the offseason, and it may open the floodgates for moves by New York. The Yankees are reportedly interested in free agent shortstop Stephen Drew to help bolster their infield, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
After a year of posturing and planning by the Yankees trying to get under the competitive balance tax threshold of $189 million for 2014, the seven-year, $155 million contract for Tanaka finalized on Wednesday makes that goal all but impossible. Instead of avoiding the penalties of the tax and resetting their rate to 17.5 percent of any overage in 2015, the Yankees will continue to pay 50 percent of any payroll over $189 million each year going forward.
"I have been saying for well over a year now that it makes sense to meet [the $189 million threshold], but not at the expense of a championship-caliber team," Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told the New York Post on Wednesday.
Now that the team is assured of being over the limit, there is less impetus to continue the frugality. Especially with an infield depth so thin.
The Yankees have Derek Jeter, who turns 40 in June and played just 17 games in 2013. Mark Teixeira returns after wrist surgery wiped out his 2013 season after only 15 games. The club signed Kelly Johnson to play third base and Brian Roberts to play second base, with Eduardo Nunez in reserve.
Drew tuned down a qualifying offer of one-year, $14.1 million from the Red Sox in November, meaning any team other than Boston that signs him would forfeit its highest pick (unless in the top 10). The Yankees gained two supplemental picks for losing Cano to Seattle and Curtis Granderson to the Mets, but lost three by already signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.
If the Yankees were to sign Drew, they would forfeit their second-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Drew hit .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 29 doubles in 2013 for the Red Sox, who are interested in re-signing their shortstop to a multi-year deal, per Heyman, but also have 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts waiting in the wings. Drew's 124 games played last year were his most since 2010, as he has averaged just 96 games per season over the last four seasons.
Drew has never played any other position in the field except shortstop in his eight-year MLB career, though he'd likely shift to second or third base in New York with Jeter entrenched at shortstop.