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Brandon Drury is fighting an uphill battle in search for spot on Mets’ roster

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Drury’s numbers have been steadily declining since he left Arizona.

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

It’s only been a few years since Yankees fans on social media were convinced they could parade Brandon Drury as the centerpiece of every big trade they concocted, including some who laughably believed their team could package him for Jacob deGrom. The hope among fans was that he could help the team land the missing piece to help make their World Series dreams a reality. The Yankees eventually packaged him to get J.A. Happ, and they were bounced by Boston in the ALDS.

Before joining the Yankees, Drury actually looked like he had a promising career ahead of him. He was drafted in the 13th round of the MLB Draft by the Braves in 2010, impressing the club in 2011 when he won MVP of the Appalachian League. However, his next full season in the minors wasn’t good, and he was unloaded to the Diamondbacks in a large package deal that netted Atlanta Justin Upton and Chris Johnson.

Drury worked his way up Arizona’s system and debuted as a September call-up in 2015. While his numbers weren’t anything to write home about—he hit .214/.254/.375 with 65 wRC+ and a -0.2 fWAR—he made the club out of camp the following year in a utility role. He put up respectable offensive numbers off the bench and finished the year hitting .282/.329/.458 with a career-best 16 homers, a career-high 102 wRC+, and a 0.3 fWAR in 134 games. He followed that up with a career-best 1.1 fWAR in 2017 to go along with 13 home runs, a .764 OPS, and a 92 wRC+. The Yankees picked him up in a three-team deal the following offseason.

Early on during his tenure in The Bronx, he was put on the shelf with blurred visions and severe migranes, the latter of which led to a long stint on the injured list. He was never quite the same after that, though he did return in late June and played just enough to find himself in the aforementioned Happ trade. His combined numbers between New York and Toronto were abysmal: a .169/.256/.260 slash line, one lone homer, a 44 wRC+, and a -0.5 fWAR. In 2019, he regained some of the power that made him a promising role player, launching 15 home runs in 120 games but posting just a 66 wRC+ and a .642 OPS while finishing with a career-worst -0.6 fWAR for the Blue Jays.

Drury saw limited playing time in a shortened 2020 season. In 21 games, he hit .152/.184/.174 with a -9 wRC+. He didn’t hit any home runs and finished with a -0.5 fWAR. He was eventually designated for assignment by Toronto on September 1, and he elected for free agency one month later. The Mets signed him to a minor league deal early in the new year and invited him to spring training to compete for a spot on the roster, though as an outsider to the 40-man roster, he will be fighting an uphill battle.

The best thing Drury has going for him is his versatility, as he can play multiple infield and outfield positions. The 28-year-old can play first, second, short, third, and the corner outfield spots, so he offers the team flexibility if he can show something during camp. However, the club has a much better option in Luis Guillorme, who can tackle almost any infield position, is a much better defender, and is a bigger offensive threat at this point in his career. As for the outfield, the club inked Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora Jr. for center, and the recent addition of Khalil Lee will also figure to land ahead of Drury on the depth chart. Additionally, while not ideal, both J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil have experience in left.

Drury will really have to wow the Mets in order to find himself heading north with the club to start the season, and he is unlikely to earn a lot of playing time this year. Still, one of the things the new front office focused on this year is building more reliable depth, and having someone with major league experience who has as much versatility and has displayed some pop, as Drury has in the past, is never a bad thing. Drury is not a bad name to store in Triple-A as a “break glass in case of emergency” option, as it beats some of the names the club has had to turn to in past years.