Drew agrees with Boston on $70 million, 5-year deal

Updated: December 7, 2006, 12:48 AM ET
Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox brought in outfielder J.D. Drew to protect Manny Ramirez in the lineup.

Now they just have to decide whether to keep Ramirez where he is.

Power Ball?
Roger Federer
With Tuesday's deals, the Red Sox's batting order likely will have a little more pop in 2007. Here's a glance at the projected one for next season:

SS Julio Lugo
CF Coco Crisp
DH David Ortiz
LF Manny Ramirez
RF J.D. Drew
C Jason Varitek
1B Kevin Youkilis
3B Mike Lowell
2B Dustin Pedroia/Alex Cora

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.

Crasnick's take
 Jerry Crasnick
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. Insider

"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 Boston."

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 the future.

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, $55 million.

ESPN Radio
ESPN Radio
Appearing on Mike & Mike in the Morning, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark said he doesn't think any team can afford what Barry Bonds wants. He also talked about Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and J.D. Drew.

• To listen, click here. Insider

Winter meetings breakdown

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 did."

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 for him."

Epstein said Drew has always performed well, despite the perceptions.

"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 outfielder.

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."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press