Now they just have to decide whether to keep Ramirez where he
The Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday with Drew on
a contract that could bring him $70 million over the next five
years. Although Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein stressed that
Drew has not yet taken a physical, he told reporters that Drew is
earmarked for the No. 5 spot in the batting order behind David
Ortiz and Ramirez.
"With David and Manny, if they want to walk those guys, we want
them to pay a steep price," manager Terry Francona said.
Later Tuesday, the Red Sox reached a $36 million, four-year
agreement with shortstop Julio Lugo that was also pending a
physical. Details of the agreement were provided to The Associated
Press by a person involved in the negotiations who spoke on the
condition of anonymity because the deal was not final.
Epstein also said Drew's defense would be an asset in Fenway
Park's cavernous and quirky right field.
"For a long time, we've talked about having a center fielder in
right field," he said. "J.D. Drew's a really good defensive
player. Having him in right will help our outfield defense. In one
player, we could address two areas of weakness."
Agent Scott Boras compared Drew on defense to former Red Sox
right fielder Dwight Evans.
On paper, this might be the worst union of star and town since Paris Hilton dropped into Altus, Ark., for a reality show paycheck. Drew's roots go back to Hahira, Ga., a one-yellow-caution-light town known primarily for its Honey Bee festival. Very soon, he'll enter a world of short-tempered waitresses, middle fingers at traffic intersections and dissection by radio talk-show caller.
For more of Jerry Crasnick's analysis on J.D. Drew going to Boston, click here.
"He can play an Evans-type right field or he can play a quality
center field. I think the fans in Boston are really going to
appreciate his style of play, as the fans in L.A. did," Boras
said. "We think J.D. has a chance to be very successful in
The contract calls for annual salaries of $14 million, but how
much Drew actually makes in the fifth year depends on how many
games he plays before then. If he can't meet set levels of games
played, some of the final $14 million would be deferred well into
Drew's physical was not expected to take place before the winter
meetings end on Thursday.
The 31-year-old Drew has had injuries throughout his career, but
he played in 146 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season and
hit .283 with 20 homers and a team-high 100 RBIs. He became a free
agent when he opted out of the last three years of his five-year,
The injuries have added to negative perceptions that have
followed Drew since the Philadelphia Phillies selected him No. 2
overall in the 1997 amateur draft. He did not sign, went back into
the draft and was picked by the St. Louis Cardinals fifth overall
the next year.
At the time, then-Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling made critical
and borderline threatening comments toward Drew. Now they're both
going to be with the Red Sox.
"My problem was with the agent," Schilling told the Boston
Herald this week. "We've talked. We were fine two minutes after we
In the clubhouse, Drew is laid back to the point of being
unflappable. Epstein said he was not concerned about whether the
passionate Boston fans would read Drew's personality as uncaring.
"Certain times, you want to bring someone in not to be the
[primary] guy," the GM said, noting that with Ortiz and catcher
Jason Varitek, Drew does not need to be a clubhouse leader.
"Virtually every player is a collection of strengths and
weaknesses. We wouldn't make a move like this if we didn't feel
like the player could perform in the role that we have earmarked
Epstein said Drew has always performed well, despite the
"I don't expect anything but really good things to happen,"
Francona said. "We've done a lot of homework."
Trot Nixon, Boston's longtime right fielder, is a free agent.
Wily Mo Pena, who played the position when Nixon was hurt last
season, had trouble fielding there and would serve as the fourth
But that would change if the Red Sox trade Ramirez. They have
been shopping the quirky left fielder off and on for several years,
but Epstein repeated on Tuesday that he will actively pursue deals
for only one more day before going into "listen-only mode."
Boras also represents Daisuke Matsuzaka. Boston bid $51,111,111
for his rights and has until Dec. 14 to reach an agreement. The
pitcher's current team, the Seibu Lions, receives the money only if
the Red Sox and Matsuzaka strike a deal.
"Matsuzaka has a dream of pitching in the major leagues. And
he's going to fulfill that dream," Boras said. "The timeframe of
it, I can't exactly predict. But he knows his skill level is one
where he's going to be a major leaguer someday."
Boras said the posting system produces an unusual negotiation.
"I think it's going to take a cooperative effort from three
parties to get something done on this," Boras said. "The elephant
in the room always is the principle of allocation. [That's]
something that we don't normally have to deal with. We're all
trying to create the saddle to ride the elephant, so we'll see."