Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez are the free agents most often linked to the Toronto Blue Jays, but they may not be the only high-profile players on the club’s radar. The Blue Jays are one of four teams “in the mix” for shortstop Stephen Drew, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Monday.
“They’re in the mix for a lot of players right now, so I think they’re a team of definite interest,” Heyman said on MLB Network.
The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and New York Mets are also possibilities for Drew, a client of agent Scott Boras. Heyman says the Yankees “seem more interested in Drew than ever,” and notes that the Red Sox are “probably the favourite right now.”
Drew has exclusively played shortstop in his eight MLB seasons, and the Blue Jays have Jose Reyes in place for the next four seasons, but it’s possible they view the left-handed hitter as a second base option despite his inexperience at the position.
Ryan Goins now projects as the Blue Jays’ starter at second base with Maicer Izturis on the depth chart as a backup. Adding Drew to the mix would provide the Blue Jays with an offensive upgrade capable of playing shortstop should Reyes require time on the disabled list.
Even so, multiple obstacles stand in the way of a potential deal: the Blue Jays maintain that Goins will hit at the MLB level; they have limited payroll flexibility for 2014; Drew has never played second base; he might prefer to sign with a playoff team such as the Red Sox.
Drew hit .253/.333/.443 in 124 games for the Red Sox in 2013, generating 3.1 wins above replacement. Like Jimenez and Santana, he’s tied to draft pick compensation after declining a qualifying offer from the Red Sox. The Blue Jays would have to give up the 49th overall selection to sign a player such as Santana, Jimenez or Drew.
The Blue Jays could “easily” make more than one big move before opening day, Heyman writes at CBS Sports, adding that it would be a surprise if they came away empty-handed. They’re remaining in contact with Drew, Jimenez and Santana, according to Heyman, who reports that GM Alex Anthopoulos has also kept in touch with the Chicago Cubs about right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
So how much would it cost to add a free agent starter? Two GMs suggested to Heyman that Jimenez could be available on a three-year deal. Santana seeks a five-year deal, Heyman reports.