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Tigers and Stephen Drew no perfect match

3/16/2014

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jose Iglesias will be out for a long time because of his shin trouble, the Tigers now have a clear need at shortstop, and Stephen Drew would certainly fill that need. To borrow a Kevin Bacon line from "A Few Good Men," these are the facts, and they are undisputed.

Drew and Iglesias are both represented by Scott Boras, who has had a good working relationship with Mike Ilitch, the Tigers’ owner who relentlessly seeks a championship. Through the years Detroit has signed Boras clients like Magglio Ordonez and Prince Fielder. Again, these are the facts, and they are undisputed.

All of this suggests that Drew and the Tigers could be a match.

But there is one major hurdle to any type of Detroit deal for Drew, and it may not be passable. There may not be a deal structure that would satisfy all sides, given all the mitigating factors.

In fact, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told beat reporters who cover the Tigers on Sunday that he seeks an internal solution to replace Iglesias at shortstop.

Think about what the Tigers might be looking for: They could need someone to play shortstop for one season. They don’t need a long-term solution at short, because they’ll continue to plan around Iglesias. They also have veterans under team control beyond this season in other spots in the infield in first baseman Miguel Cabrera, second baseman Ian Kinsler and third baseman Nick Castellanos.

So they don’t really need Drew for more than one year. And in order to sign Drew, the Tigers would have to surrender their first-round pick and the dollars attached to it in the draft slotting system, at a time when their farm system is perceived to be thin. Most general managers will tell you privately they have no interest in giving up a draft pick for a player on a one-year deal unless they get such a ridiculous discount that it’s very much worth their while, or, in the case of the Braves last week, that their need is so desperate, they have no choice.

With that in mind, think about what Drew and Boras are looking to get out of the deal: He turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer last fall from the Red Sox, and so if he doesn’t get exactly that kind of salary, as Ervin Santana got from the Braves, he would want something at least close to that -- or a solid two-year deal, like (and this is speculation) two years at $25 million, or three years at $27 million.

Considering the sacrifice of the draft pick, considering the concerns about Drew’s medical records that some teams have had, those salary numbers may be way beyond what the Tigers are comfortable with, given the kind of player Drew is.

"He’s a good shortstop, no question," said one evaluator Sunday morning. "Is he a star player? No." Drew hit .253 last season, with a .333 on-base percentage, in helping the Red Sox win a World Series -- albeit in another year greatly affected by injury. He hasn’t played in more than 124 games in any season since 2010.

The Tigers could sign Drew to a multiyear deal with the intention of perhaps trading him after this year, but the medical history could impact their thinking about that, as well as the trade market.

The Tigers need a bargain to make this happen, considering the draft pick sacrifice. Drew needs a lot more than a bargain, considering what he turned down from the Red Sox last fall. One side or the other will have to surrender in order to make this happen. Or else it won’t.