FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sitting in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Dodgers, new Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew talked about his decision to invoke the unorthodox opt-out clause that allowed him to escape his contract with his former employers.
Saying it was a business decision, citing job security and not wanting to be traded as his primary reasons for employing the clause, Drew said he did not begin to consider the option until the 2006 season ended.
"I knew there was an option there," Drew said. "I had been asked questions about that. I said, 'Hey, I hadn't thought about it. I honestly can't comment on it.' There was some times during the season when I had been asked about it. [The] last thing on my mind was thinking about an option during the offseason when we're trying to make the playoffs.
"So, yeah, I hadn't even considered it, and really I just kind of know things like that need to be handled in the offseason, not while you're trying to go out and perform every day. Last thing I need to be doing is thinking about changing teams or something like that during the middle of a run, when you're with a team and you're committed to winning.
"When the offseason came around and [my agent] Scott [Boras] started informing me of where things stood, the market and what he thought I should do, I had to kind of look into that kind of stuff," said Drew, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Red Sox in January.
"You know, the thing with me is that we were looking for some job security, and I know where the Dodgers are heading and I didn't want to become trade bait at some point down the road. Those were the things that were very important to me, and it just didn't seem like they wanted to pursue any of those avenues, so they moved on and I kind of had to do the same thing."
Drew's contract with the Sox includes a limited no-trade clause allowing him to block deals to two clubs. Sources with knowledge of his Dodgers contract said Monday there was language in that deal allowing him to block trades to five teams, ostensibly giving him more job security with the Dodgers than in his current deal.
Drew said he would have re-signed with the Dodgers, "but they really showed no interest."
Drew, who hit .317 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in September, after hitting .279 with three homers and 18 RBIs in August, said his improved production at the end of the season had nothing to do with his decision to employ the opt-out clause.
"No, absolutely not," he said. "I never honestly never thought about that option. Scott called me early in the offseason and said, 'Hey, you have an option in your contract.' I kind of laughed it off thinking, 'We're happy in LA. We're not really thinking on the lines of leaving.'
"Then he called me with a very small amount of time left to opt out of the contract, and said, 'I need you to seriously consider this.' He kind of laid out some options for me and said, 'Hey, this is what I think it's going, [it] could happen and I want you guys, with a young family, and thinking about having additions to that family, I want you to have some job security. I want you to kind of dictate where you're playing at for a few years.'
"And those were important things to us. Me and my wife got together and thought about some of that stuff, prayed about a lot of that stuff, and ultimately ended up opting out."
While Drew said he has remained in contact with Dodgers manager Grady Little, who Drew said had called during the offseason to wish him luck, he expressed disappointment in Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.
"Ned said a lot of things about [me] not being a man of his word and this and that, and those things kind of offended me," Drew said. "And I hadn't had a chance to talk with him at all. I think he was just kind of shocked by the whole thing and maybe taken aback and said some things. I don't know what he feels about them now.
"But if I'd ever said, however long it was, six weeks before [the end of the season], if I'd ever said, 'Ned, I have an option. Don't worry about it. I'm not leaving,' then he could have said I was a hypocrite and not a man of my word, things like that."
Drew played in a career-high 146 games last season. He said while he does not have a goal in mind, he is not concerned about not meeting such a number in 2007.
"No, not at all," he said. "I think I was much in that same role when I played for [manager] Bobby [Cox, in Atlanta in 2004]. My body felt great there in Atlanta. Then I went to LA. I was on a good pace again the next season, until I broke my wrist. I really couldn't do anything about that. And then last year again, Grady's definitely a great manager, enjoyed playing for him, and those were a lot of fun. But I think I've set myself up to do those kind of numbers again."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.