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Friday, January 26, 2007

Red Sox, Drew finalize deal-MLB.com

Finally, the Red Sox will be able to officially announce J.D. Drew as their new right fielder later this afternoon. Drew will be a fine addition to an already potent Boston outfield.

Announcement to be made Friday on long-awaited signing
By Ian Browne / MLB.com

BOSTON -- It can now be said officially that J.D. Drew is the new right fielder for the Boston Red Sox. That has unofficially been the case since Dec. 5, when agent Scott Boras announced to a pack of reporters that his client had struck a five-year, $70 million deal with Boston.

Fifty-two days later, Drew finally put a signature on that agreement. The Red Sox will hold a conference call at 2 p.m. ET on Friday to announce Drew as their new No. 5 hitter.

The hold-up? After conducting a physical on Drew in the second week of December, the Red Sox had some concerns about the outfielder's right shoulder, which was operated on in September 2005.

For the past several weeks, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and Boras tried finding common ground on contract language that would give the team protection in the event Drew suffered a significant injury to his right shoulder. A resolution was finally reached on Thursday.

The Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox would be able to opt out of Drew's contract after three years if he has right shoulder woes in the third year of the deal. If Drew has a significant injury to the right shoulder in the fourth year of the deal, the Red Sox could void the fifth year.
Drew replaces long-time fan favorite Trot Nixon in right field.

"I think Drew is a great fit to complement our existing personnel," said Epstein in December. "If you look, last year and the last couple of years -- especially last year -- a couple of our weaknesses were a No. 5 hitter and outfield defense, generally, especially with a fly-ball staff, which we have. Drew, if we end up signing him officially, he addresses both of those areas of concern."

Drew, 31, is coming off a solid season. He helped the Dodgers to the postseason in 2006 by hitting .283 with 34 doubles, six triples, 20 homers and 100 RBIs.

A patient hitter -- which fits in perfectly with Boston's offensive philosophy -- Drew has a smooth opposite field stroke from the left side. That should help him at Fenway, with the Green Monster just 310 feet from home plate.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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