|Recruiting pitch: How Drew Sutton was sold on becoming a Red Sox||05.20.11 at 7:00 pm ET|
Free agency features any number of fascinating processes, most of them involving courtship. The representatives for Carl Crawford sent out iPads with highlights of the outfielder’s brilliance when he was a free agent this past winter. Sometimes, teams will offer tours or perhaps welcome a player to a stadium with his name on the scoreboard in hopes of wooing him to a new city.
But the Sox don’t just put on a full-court press for high-profile free agents. The team had a sales pitch for Drew Sutton, a free agent during the winter who had spent 55 games in the majors over the past two seasons with the Indians and Reds after having been drafted and developed in the Astros system.
“I think it was November when the Red Sox started talking to me, they sent a packet that had a list of the past four or five years, the guys who have signed as minor league free agents and how they got an opportunity when the need would arise. They would help fill that role. Having a track record like that, it’s not just last year because of all the injuries,it’s the last four or five years. So that says a lot,” said Sutton. “Some of the clubs I’ve been with, like the Astros and the Reds, they’re going to use as much as they can on the 40-man. It’s because I guess they don’t want to lose the players if they have to take somebody off. … Different teams have different philosophies.
“One of the attractive things about the Red Sox was their track record as far as their minor league free agents that they’ve signed,” he added. “If they’re playing well, they want to call up people who are going to help them win. With some other organizations, they’re going to call up whoever’s available on the 40-man. That was something that was attractive to me because if you’re not on the 40-man, it still gives you a chance to come up here if you play well.”
The Sox could point to players such as Nick Green and Darnell McDonald who had signed as minor league free agents but ended up assuming prominent roles. That was convincing for Sutton, a versatile player who played all four infield positions in spring training and who recently added left field to his resume in Triple-A Pawtucket.
And Sutton has also shown an ability to hit for the Sox. In spring training, he went on virtually every road trip, serving — along with Nate Spears — as one of the team’s “travel guinea pigs” (in Sutton’s words). As he was shuttling around the diamond, he received plenty of playing time, hitting .317 with a .382 OBP and .550 slugging mark while ranking among the team leaders with 60 at-bats. That, in turn, gave him an opportunity to put himself in the thoughts of team decision makers should the need for minor league reinforcements arrive.
Sutton carried that success into the season with Pawtucket, hitting .304/.385/.522 with five homers in 36 games. And so, when the Sox decided that they needed to send Jose Iglesias back to the minors in order to allow him to continue his developmental progression (for more on that decision, click here), it was Sutton who was summoned in his place.
“I can’t really say I expected to be here at any point during the season because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Sutton. “But you play well and you put yourself in a good position where, if you play well, you’re a name they think of.”
Now, Sutton said, he is prepared to do whatever the Sox need him to do. Towards that end, he spent Friday afternoon trying to take balls off the Green Monster.
“I hope nobody got video of that,” he said. “Probably would have been funny.”
But Sutton has made an impression far beyond a source of humor. He positioned himself to become another face in the brochure issued to future minor league free agents who are looking for a major league opportunity.
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