Brandon Drury began the season as the starting third baseman, and a placeholder for Vlad Guerrero Jr. His window of opportunity is starting to close, and he’s yet to take full advantage.
It’s been a difficult last couple of seasons for Brandon Drury. Over the 2016-17 seasons, Drury looked like he was developing into a fixture on the Arizona Diamondback’s roster as a utility man, but a lot has changed since then.
He was dealt to the New York Yankees before the 2018 season, and of course, landed in Toronto last year as part of the trade that sent J.A. Happ to the division rivals. After he arrived in north of the border it was discovered that he had a broken bone in his hand that was misdiagnosed before the trade, and as a result he sat out the remainder last season after just five pain-filled games as a Blue Jay.
Fast forward to today and Drury is in yet another precarious situation. He started the campaign as the third baseman for Charlie Montoyo‘s lineup and was even slotted in at the top of the batting order to begin the regular season, mostly a result of some hot hitting during Grapefruit League play. Unfortunately things haven’t gone as well since the regular season got underway, as he entered Thursday night’s game with the Red Sox hitting just .163/.200/.233 in his first 45 plate appearances, and followed it up with another 0-4 last night, dropping his average to .149.
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It’s an unfortunate start to the season for Drury, mostly because the month of April represented a great opportunity for him to re-establish his value as a big leaguer. If you’re reading this I likely don’t have to tell you that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is back playing rehab games again, and has even made his way back to Triple-A Buffalo. He also hit a home run last night. We don’t know for sure when Ross Atkins and company plan to call him up, but it’s safe to say that it’s going to happen sooner than later.
When that takes place, Drury will become a bit of a man without a position again, something that he’s likely getting somewhat used to, but also a situation that can’t be terribly encouraging. The good news is he does have an ability to play around the diamond, and he could realistically still see plenty of time at third base when Vlad Jr. needs a day off or is in the lineup as the DH. Drury could also see time at second base, first base, or even in the corner of the outfield.
That said, he’s going to have to start hitting if Montoyo is going to be enticed to keep putting him into the lineup. The Blue Jays have plenty of viable candidates for second base including Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Richard Urena, and possibly Devon Travis if and when he can get healthy. At first base they’ve got Justin Smoak and Rowdy Tellez, and there are plenty of outfielders who are likely ahead of Drury on the depth chart.
I don’t think that Vladimir Guerrer Jr’s big league arrival is going to squeeze Drury off of the roster altogether, but it’s definitely going to make getting regular at-bats a lot bigger challenge. He doesn’t really get much of a platoon advantage either, as Vlad Jr. and Gurriel Jr. both hit right-handed, and Smoak and Freddy Galvis are switch-hitters.
It’s too bad that the early part of the season hasn’t gone in his favour, especially with the likelihood of a move to the bench coming in the not so distant future. That said, he’s still just 26 years old and it doesn’t take much for things to change, especially on a rebuildling club, so hopefully he’ll have plenty of opportunity to turn his season around at some point.