The Red Sox have made a decision about what to do at third base with Will Middlebrooks out -- and when he returns from injury -- by signing free agent Stephen Drew to a one-year deal. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal first reported the signing, while CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweeted that Drew is believed to be getting the prorated version of the $14.1 million Boston offered him during the off-season -- something in the $10 million range.
Drew was still a free agent thanks to the draft pick compensation attached to him by Boston's qualifying offer. It became clear that any teams in need of Drew were going to wait until after the MLB Draft in June to sign him, as the need for compensation would disappear. Rather than wait for other suitors to appear, Boston jumped on Drew now, since they obviously will not lose a pick for signing their own free agent. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo is reporting that, despite the extended off-season, Drew will be on the active roster of the Red Sox on Wednesday.
It's unclear where Drew will play: the Red Sox have stated that they are committed to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, and taking him off of the position cuts into his defensive development time there. At the same time, if the plan is to win now while also putting youth in the lineup, the configuration that worked so well en route to a World Series championship last October is an option: that would mean Drew at shortstop, the only position he's ever played in the majors, and Bogaerts at third.
Either way, Middlebrooks is out of a job when he returns from the disabled list. It's unclear where he'll play at Triple-A Pawtucket, assuming he is optioned there after coming off of the DL, as prospect Garin Cecchini is currently learning third base, and Middlebrooks' struggles at the plate put into question his ability to handle first.
With that being said, Ryan Lavarnway is currently playing first base for the PawSox, so maybe that's exactly where Middlebrooks ends up if for no other reason than there is room there.
The Red Sox don't need to make an accompanying move to make room for Drew, as the 40-man roster only had 39 players on it prior to Drew's signing thanks to Ryan Dempster's placement on the Restricted List and Stephen Wright's stint on the 60-day DL.