After the Boone trade, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said ominously: "This (trade) speaks volumes on where Drew is at this point in time. Drew Henson hasn't developed to the point where he's in consideration for the major league side."
Henson enjoyed baseball's proverbial cup of coffee as a September addition to the Yankees' roster. He went 1-for-8, with his lone hit being a weak single that found a hole in the Baltimore Orioles' infield defense.
When Boone tore up his knee playing a game of basketball last month, Henson wasn't mentioned as even a remote possibility to fill the void.
Henson, a prep baseball phenom who set national career home run records, never developed the way the Yankees hoped when they signed him to the most lavish rookie contract in baseball history. (Of the six-year, $17 million contact, Henson leaves the Yankees with three years and $12 million on the table.)
His baseball career was summed up by one stat: he had more strikeouts (559) than hits (461) during his minor-league career. Those numbers aren't acceptable for even the best of sluggers, but Henson showed disappointingly little pop in the minors. In another sign that he would never become an adequate major leaguer, Henson's batting average dipped at each stop in his minor-league progression. At Class AAA Columbus, the most advanced class in baseball's minor-league system, Henson hit just .234 last year with 14 home runs and 28 errors.
"He was a big kid with great hands and excellent athleticism," a baseball scout told The Washington Post. "But he had ‘slider' bat speed and he had some trouble making throws to first — which I know sounds strange given his background. He also never looked like he was enjoying himself."
Instead of working on his baseball skills this off-season, Henson's thoughts turned to football. His agents hired Larry Kennan, a former NFL offensive assistant coach and the current executive director of the NFL Coaches Association, to work with Henson.
"Everybody anticipated that he would have been the first or second quarterback taken in the draft if he had come out" instead of opting for baseball in 2000, Kennan told The Washington Post. "I don't see that changing. This is a big, strong quarterback. He can make all the throws. He hasn't lost any ability."
Henson said the same thing. Speaking to The Houston Chronicle during Super Bowl week, Henson did his best to sell himself to his suitors.
"I was interested to see where I was when I started working out," Henson said. "It only took about three weeks before I felt I was back in the groove. I think teams will see that mechanically I'm as sharp as I ever was, my body has matured, I'm stronger, and I'm faster."
Despite being a washout as a baseball player, Henson says he doesn't regret the decision. If he would have stuck with football, Henson says he would have always wondered about baseball. Now, at age 24, he's ready to start his real career.
"It just basically came down to I missed football a lot more than I ever thought I would," said Henson. "When you play the quarterback position, you're a leader. You're involved in every play, and I missed that. It's not that I necessarily took that for granted, but it is something that I missed, and I'm interested in getting back to that."