If the Cardinals can't make a trade for a healthy, productive shortstop, they could bolster the position by plucking Stephen Drew off the free agent market.
He's one of the few appealing middle infielders available on the open market if Rafael Furcal is unable to play in 2013.
Once thought of as a rising star, the 29-year-old brother of former Cardinals outfielder JD Drew has seen his stock sink after breaking his ankle in 2010.
A .270 hitter who averaged 12 homers, 54 RBIs and 63 runs scored a season before the injury, Drew was a .223 hitter with seven homers and 28 RBI in 79 games in 2012. He was traded from the franchise with which he started, Arizona, late in the season to Oakland.
The Athletics are rumored to have interest in re-signing Drew. But that club declined a $10 million option on his contract to make the shortstop a free agent.
The Cardinals are in a bit of a shortstop jam with Furcal's status unknown. He was shut down for the last month of the 2012 season and the playoffs with elbow damage. He opted to try to rehab instead of having surgery. So this could go the way of Troy Glaus' last season in St. Louis. It could be mid-winter before the Birds find out that surgery is the only option to get Furcal Healthy. And by then he could miss the bulk of the season.
As I have mentioned before, I would be in favor of the Cardinals making a deal for a young shortstop like Elvis Andrus who could be a part of the St. Louis roster for years. But it's a dicey deal to consider on iffy proposition as insurance against another. It could turn out that both Furcal and Drew were healthy for all of 2012 with not enough playing time to go around... Or they could both be injured, leaving the Cardinals with few options beyond Pete Kozma and projected starting second baseman Daniel Descalso at short.
Drew would likely be relatively cheap. But if he came at a low price, it would probably be a one-year deal in hopes of rehabbing his reputation and gaining a long term contract after the 2013 season. So he'd be a temporary fill for the Cardinals at best.
Another problem with signing Drew is that the only position in the field he has played in the majors is shortstop. If Furcal is healthy, there's no proof that Drew could play someplace else -- like third base if David Freese's problems staying healthy re-surface.
While Drew was a guy whose name was mentioned as a potential Cardinals shortstop in the past, the only way I can see a deal being struck here is if the Birds are pretty confident Furcal will be lost for the majority of 2013. Otherwise, it just doesn't seem like a good fit.