The 33-year-old utility man posted a solid season with the Nationals in 2016, slashing .266/.339/.524 in 165 plate appearances. With MVP finalist Daniel Murphy holding down second base for Washington, Stephen Drew mainly offered infield depth off the bench for manager Dusty Baker. Although the lack of plate appearances held him back from matching his home run and RBI totals from previous years, the lefty showed he can still hit the ball with some pop, posting the highest slugging percentage of his career thanks to 20 of his 38 hits going for extra bases. Drew especially heated up late in the season, slashing .275/.388/.425 the final month of the season after missing extended time due to an ear issue. He returned to the Nationals over the offseason, so he'll likely fulfill a similar reserve utility infielder role in 2017.
Drew says the vertigo-like symptoms he dealt with last year fully ceased in the offseason, The Washington Post reports. "It took a while to come over that," Drew said. "It was hard to describe. When I got that sick, it's just kind of a freak thing, I don't really know. There's nothing to say like 'Oh, it's this, this, this.' I had no idea. So it's passed and hopefully it won't come back on me." The 33-year-old played in just 70 games last season, his lowest total since he was a rookie in 2006, but Drew also posted the highest SLG of his career when he was on the field. Given that no official diagnosis for what was causing the symptoms was released, it's tough to completely dismiss the possibility of a relapse, but if Drew does stay healthy in 2017, his role as the primary utility infielder on a team with some aging and injury-prone starters could afford him more playing time than you might think, and some value in deep NL-only leagues.
Drew agreed to a one-year deal with the Nationals on Thursday, the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes reports. The deal is expected to be worth just over $3 million. He will serve as the backup at second base and shortstop and will provide a good clubhouse presence. He hit .266 with eight home runs in 165 plate appearances last year, and would need Daniel Murphy or Trea Turner to suffer an injury in order to see enough playing time to be a useful fantasy option. This means Wilmer Difo will likely open the year at Triple-A.
Drew went 1-for-4 with a solo homer in Friday's 7-4 loss to the Marlins. The veteran infielder connected for his first homer since way back on July 3 versus the Reds. Drew has put together a solid September (.297/.386/.459) and has generally been solid while logging 140 at-bats this season. While his eight homers and 21 RBI lag significantly behind the 17 round-trippers and 44 runs he drove in with the Yankees in 2015, it's notable that Drew has improved his batting average by 70 points to .271, while also playing 62 fewer games in the current campaign.
The Nationals activated Drew (illness) from the disabled list Wednesday. Drew kicked off a rehab assignment last Thursday after missing over a month due to vertigo symptoms, and he is ready to rejoin the big club less than a week later. He will fill a part-time utility role, but with the Nationals comfortably in first place, he figures to start here and there when manager Dusty Baker decides to give his regulars some rest.
Drew (illness) began a rehab assignment with High-A Potomac on Thursday. Drew had been sidelined for all of August and part of July due to vertigo symptoms, but he is feeling good enough to return to game action. He will likely play a few times in the minors and rejoin the Nationals at some point later this month.