When I asked for Yankees mailbag questions last week, I received a number of them relating to Brandon Drury. I thought that the topic proved too important to include in a traditional mailbag. That’s why I’m running a special edition version of the post today, focusing exclusively on the Drury injury and its aftermath.
Bill asks: Since Brandon Drury has now revealed that he’s had migraine and blurred vision issues “for years,” it seems to me the Yankees should be seeking to void the trade by which we acquired him. If he and the Diamondbacks knowingly hid these issues, that seems unethical and patently dishonest. In effect, we were sold damaged goods. I feel bad for Brandon and his condition, but why wouldn’t we seek to void this trade?
Before diving into this question, some background information proves useful. The Yankees acquired Drury from the Diamondbacks on February 20th. It was a three-way deal that also involved the Rays. When Drury landed on the disabled list with blurred vision and migraines last week, he noted that the symptoms troubled him for several years. It became too much of an issue this season, though.
“It’s baseball,” Drury explained to Deesha Thosar of MLB.com. “I need to have my eyes be right to play and help this team win games, and I just feel like I haven’t even been close to what I’m at physically to play this game and help the team win games.”
Drury was evaluated at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center last week, and has a battery of tests scheduled in the week ahead. According to Aaron Boone, the third baseman is in good spirits. “When I spoke with him today, compared to where he was when we left on the road trip, he sounded much, much better,” Boone noted yesterday. “Like a different guy.”
Now, to answer the heart of this question, should the Yankees try to void the trade? The answer is no, because they probably have no grounds to do so. Drury explained that he kept the symptoms to himself. Arizona had no knowledge of it, therefore they didn’t withhold any information. The Yankees have no recourse here.
Some may argue that’s being naive. “Certainly the Diamondbacks must have known,” they suggest. I don’t think it’s so obvious, considering the amount of playing time he earned. It’s hard to fault Arizona in this situation. If there’s anything to blame here, it’s the culture of playing through injuries that permeates baseball.
dpk875 asks: How do you view the Brandon Drury situation? I find it highly unlikely that nobody in Arizona knew this guy was dealing with migraine like symptoms across multiple seasons. Should the Yankees get the commissioner involved and try to get Taylor Widener back or some other form of compensation? My other thought is just go with it, because this explains exactly why the Yankees and a few other scouts viewed Drury as having more to offer, and if the Yankees help Drury fix or mitigate the problem, then they might be sitting on a goldmine of untapped potential?
I touched on the first half of the question above, so that needs no further repeating. The second part, however, proves far more interesting. The Yankees acquired Drury because they say a young, talented player with room to grow. He fit the mold of the Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius trades.
Drury has some holes in his game, and apparently health is one of those. He’s a career .270/.319/.447 hitter with 32 home runs across 297 games. That’s okay. It’s nothing special, but for a young infielder it’s fine. That line becomes a lot more impressive, however, when one considers he achieved it while playing through migraines for his entire career. If he receives a diagnosis and treatment, it’s likely he will see significant improvements based on that alone. Imagine how much more comfortable he will be at the plate.
Combine that with his baseball specific adjustments — the items the Yankees want him to focus on — and Drury could be in store for a major breakthrough. The team saw power potential at the time of the trade, and as seen with Gregorius, the coaching staff knows how to extract it. This is an unfortunate situation for Drury right now. With some luck and better health, though, the Yankees may have a special player.