One of the underrated signings of the offseason was the addition of Brandon Drury on a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. General manager Perry Minasian saw the value in the 30-year-old due to his versatility and breakout offensive performance.
Drury enjoyed a bit of success with the New York Mets in 2021 with a then-career-high 114 wRC+, but this past season with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres, he posted a 123 wRC+, which put him on the radar of the most interesting free-agent bats.
The Angels felt strongly enough about his breakout season to pay him $17 million over two seasons, a number that Minasian feels Drury has earned, and his ability to play multiple defensive spots are what set him apart.
Although he would be among the larger second baseman in the sport and may have less range than many of the slick-fielding middle infielders, the Angels are comfortable using him up the middle, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
Although defense will be more important for middle infielders without the safety net of a shift next season, Minasian said Drury can still handle playing second.
“We think he’s a solid defender at second base,” Minasian said. “He moves well. He’s a bigger guy (6-foot-2), so there’s length. Maybe it takes him less steps to cover certain amount of ground than it will take somebody in as a smaller package, per se. He understands the angles of playing second base. He can make the turn on a double play. The arm strength is there, so we feel good about it.”
With Major League Baseball banning the extensive use of defensive shifts ahead of the 2023 season, no one knows how the metrics will play out or how they will impact the game. But Drury has played all over the diamond, even spending time in corner outfield spots earlier in his MLB career.
The Angels can expect a veteran bat from Drury, and hopefully, with the firepower at the top of the lineup in Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and now Hunter Renfroe, the utilityman should feel extremely comfortable to continue producing on offense.
After Brandon Drury & Tyler Anderson contracts, Angels still prepared to spend
The Angels’ payroll sits at $206 million, which is a club record and $25 million more than last season’s payroll. But owner Arte Moreno isn’t blinking when it comes to giving the green light on potential deals that will push them closer to the Competetive Balance Tax.
The Angels have flown under the radar with a generally high payroll, but their on-field production hasn’t matched the contracts they’ve handed out in the past, which causes concern that it may happen again.
However, they already signed Tyler Anderson, Drury, and Carlos Estévez to multi-year deals. Minasian also traded for Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela, both of whom are in their final years of arbitration and will be unrestricted free agents following the 2023 season.
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