The Red Sox do not know where they will finish in the Stephen Drew shortstop sweepstakes, but they have filled their utility infielder vacancy.
The Red Sox acquired infielder Jonathan Herrera from the Rockies in exchange for left-handed reliever Franklin Morales and minor league right-hander Chris Martin.
Herrera is cut straight from the mold of the classic utility infielder, in that he’s a capable, not fantastic, defender who can play third base, shortstop and second base and he is slightly above average offensively. He hit .292 in 81 games this year for this year and owns a .325 career on-base percentage, semi-respectable for a utility infielder.
Herrera also can play the outfield in a pinch. Comparisons to Pedro Ciriaco are not unwarranted in that he is a reliable, essentially average player, which most teams need, plus he has an option remaining, another useful tool for a big league roster. He will make slightly more than $1 million this season, which roughly is a 50 percent savings on what the Red Sox would have paid Morales, an arbitration-eligible pitcher for this season and next before becoming a free agent. Herrera, 29, will not be a free agent until after 2016.
Morales became expendable after an injury-filled 2013 season in which he appeared in 20 games, one of them a start. The Red Sox traded for Morales, 27, in May 2011 from the Rockies, who signed him as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2002. Martin, 27, pitched out of the bullpen for Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland this season, striking out 74 in 72 innings.
Herrera’s arrival has little to nothing to do with the club’s still-active interest in Drew, a free agent who is looking for a multi-year deal. The Red Sox are believed to be interested in a deal for a maximum of two years, while Drew likely is looking for at least one more. So far, only the Mets have emerged as a likely suitor, but other teams might emerge soon once bigger free agents like starter Masahiro Tanaka and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo find new homes.
A conclusion to Drew’s free agency does not appear imminent.