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Rockies free agency: Colorado should pursue Stephen Drew for bench depth

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The Rockies struggled with Trevor Story out of the lineup last season. That -- and history -- says the Rockies should prepare to upgrade their depth as a result.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Editor's note: A couple of old friends had a discussion about how to fix the Rockies. One area nobody is talking about -- the bench -- is just as important to upgrade as just about anything else. Let's get to it.

MATT: Hey Andrew, wanna go to an Avs game? They're pretty mediocre...

ANDREW: Uhhhhhh yeah, that sounds pretty good. Been awhile since I've been to an Avs game. Fair warning though: I know absolutely zilch about them this season, other than like Varly is still in net and we still have Duchene and Landeskog. ....right? We still have them?

//other team from wherever scores goal 40 seconds into the game

MATT: how about that Rockies infield? Are we seriously going with Adames as our UTIL guy? Him? Mr. 50 wRC+?

ANDREW: Are we seriously gonna talk about baseball at the Avalanche game?

//random team scores again. Avs fans stream out from their seats to get another beer

ANDREW: Ok yeah I'm not thrilled with Adames either. But... I mean Pat Valaika doesn't entirely fill me with confidence either, and who's coming up? Anybody? Can Tapia play 2B/SS? Rosell Herrera? Is he still alive?

MATT: reports that we had cobwebs -- actual cobwebs -- playing 2B in Albuquerque this year. AA wasn't better. This is a serious weak spot on the farm. What does say? Anyone of interest?

//somehow a different team scores another goal-type thing. Things are bad is the point

ANDREW: lets see who's on the free agent list... I'm seeing Gordon Beckham, Aaron Hill, Ruben Tejada... ooh, Jemile Weeks, is he still a thing?

MATT: Ruben Tejada is only 27? That could be a decent pickup. How was his 2016? Was he still with the Mets?

ANDREW: Oh yeah no, Weeks had a good rookie season and has been above replacement for 55PA since 2011. Tejada? He batted .301 in AAA Pawtucket last season - 99 wRC+... like his MLB numbers were limited but not the end of the world, super low BABIP

MATT: Minor league deal guys, but not even replacements for Daniel Descalso.

ANDREW: Hill would be.... OK as a bench guy, but do we really need another RHB backing up Arenado, Story, and DJ? Seems redundant, and with a questionable bat and aging glove, would we really be that much worse with Adames? Beckham's terrible, he's on his 3rd straight season with a sub-.260 BABIP - Matt, I'm thinking that Beckham just might not pan out as a MLB hitter.

MATT: But he's a former first round pick! Only the Rockies ruin first round picks!

ANDREW: heh remember Matt Anderson, CL picked first overall by the ChiSox?

MATT: GREG REYNO---okay, back to a solid utility guy. If one of Story, Arenado, DJ goes down, I want someone who knows which way to hold the bat. We don't really have anyone like that anymore, unless Gerardo Parra wants to learn a new position every single year.

ANDREW: This is reminding me of when we were trying to compete with Tulo over the past 5 years. When Asdrubal Cabrera was a FA I thought he'd be perfect. DJ hadn't broken out yet so we'd start Cabrera at 2B, have him back up SS and start DJ when he starts at 2B. Is he available?

MATT: Andrew. What about Stephen Drew?

ANDREW: Isn't he still with the Yankees?

MATT: Uhh, I dunno? I remember he had the terrible year after the Qualifying Offer debacle, then forgot mostly about him. But he's lefty...? Decent glove?

ANDREW: No wait, he's with the Nats right now. 0.7 fWAR over 165PA, batted... .266/.339/.524 - wow that's a legit batting line. 260 ISO?

MATT: .524 slugging? In Washington? Lol no way. In 2016? Platoon guy or what?

ANDREW: 148PA vs RHP. 135 wRC+. So yeah, platoon bat. But he can play SS, and presumably 2B and 3B as well. Yeah, he played all 3 with Washington, mostly starting at 2B but split up well.

MATT: Okay, so what's the price tag here? We are probably a bit stretched with all the arb increases and the Sword of Damocles Jose Reyes still dangling over our heads.

ANDREW: hang on lemme check Cot's


ANDREW: Well, the Nats gave him 1 year, $3M, and his role was pretty apparent. Given that he appears to be effective in that role, maybe we give him... 1 year $4.5? Wait nah he's only 33, soooo.... 2 years... $9M total?

MATT: Well, Sean Rodriguez just got 2/11.5 from the Braves and he signed pretty early into the offseason. So either that was more than he was expecting, the Braves promised him a starting role, or he really loves the Coca-Cola Museum. Rodriguez had a better year and is younger than Drew, but otherwise the comp isn't far off.

ANDREW: Oooh, Sean Rodriguez - there's a name we should've had on our offseason shopping list. Clearly affordable, good stopgap kind of guy, platoon splits but not so bad you only play him against lefties - welp, good signing, Braves. Wow, he played every position but Catcher for Pittsburgh last season. I think the Braves are looking to start him or Super-U him, but we're pretty clearly not interested in starting Drew on the regular. Washington didn't use him in that role, and he was pretty good for them. #Value. I think 2/$9M sounds about right. Who else can we compare him to?

MATT: There's not a ton else out there, which is why it's somehow a priority this offseason if the Rockies are truly serious about competing. It's unlikely that we get a full season out of Arenado+Story+DJ. I like Drew, I think he fills a ton of holes.

ANDREW: Looks like he played 2B, 3B, and SS for Washington, so I see no reason why 33 year old Stephen Drew can't do the same for us. I mean, unless Minnesota Jamey Carroll's him and starts him at SS.... dude, Jamey Carroll put up 3.5 rWAR (2.0 fWAR) at age 38 for Minnesota. Dang, he had a decent career. Ok so real question though: can we handle Stephen Drew, Rockies Killer in Coors? The joke was that Parra was a Rockies killer... and he continues to kill the Rockies. Would Drew sandbag just to spite us?

MATT: Nah, I wouldn't worry about that too much. So real talk - project out a 2017 season from Colorado Rocky/Rockie Stephen Drew using your metrics of choice, but don't forget to include PA as well. I'll follow suit.

ANDREW: .270/.345/.450, 200PA, 5HR, 115 wRC+ (165PA v RHP, 35PA v LHP). I'm a bit bearish on his HR numbers, given that he hit 8 in 2016 with a sky-high HR/FB relative to his career (career ~8%, last year ~15%), but he's also coming to Coors Field in this hypothetical. His career average over 600PA, disregarding park effects, is just shy of 15. That said, he could also hit a bunch of doubles, which is also a thing that happens in Coors. I'm buying way into 2016 Stephen Drew's performance as a platoon infielder. OK you go now.

MATT: I mean, we can't completely ignore what happened in the AL East, right? He was mostly terrible for Boston and New York. In fact, since his major injury in 2011, he's been a league average bat only twice -- 2013 (108 wRC+) and 2016 (124 wRC+). He's a 34 year old middle infielder in 2017. I think your line is spot on for production, but I would probably bet the under on the 200 plate appearances.

Is that worth 4.5mil AAV? I don't want to completely talk myself out of the addition, but there are definitely red flags everywhere...Question: Would you rather have him or spend that cash on another Chad Qualls-veteran-bullpen arm deal?

ANDREW: [Looking at his phone] Resolution just texted me. "Both Drew brothers have won a world series with Boston" whoah that's pretty cool. Wait, how did he know we were talking about Stephen Drew? Weird. Whatever.

Anyhow, regarding his time in Boston, remember how he was hurt or something in 2014 and he also was a QO guy and missed spring training and all sorts of other excuses. Also, we're not in the AL East, he's at least familiar with our division if not still completely comfortable. But the injury thing definitely has me raising an eyebrow. Good thing we won't need him to start.

MATT: So you're buying? Should Stephen Drew be on top of the Purple Row Offseason Shopping List*TM? I can't think of anyone else that would really come close on the free agent market.

ANDREW: I'm buying. I was buying on Asdrubal Cabrera when Tulowitzki was our SS so we'd have a full time caliber guy playing 2B and could swap out for SS if/when Tulo went down and we'd then start DJ at 2B, and I'm buying on Drew on the bench for the same reason - well, more precaution, but still. This way we have both platoon and injury insurance for 3 key RHB infielders.

MATT: You know? Me too. Injury risk and performance risks aside, this is a terrible free agent class. There aren't any substantial "over the top" players available to us, so we need to focus on the fringes. Drew would be a 1 WAR improvement over any other bench guy we have available and the only one likely to be above replacement in our system next year. He's an okay glove guy, could be great insurance in case of injury, and helps give our guys some rest throughout the season.

//Avs lose Whatever-0

Let's go get another beer and fix the bullpen.

*Reasonable players only, we are Colorado after all.