Sometimes, Brian Cashman sees talent in a player. He saw something in Didi Gregorius, when the shortstop was barely replacement level in Arizona. Cashman saw something in Chad Green too, and both of those hunches have paid off in spades for the Yankees. As a result, most fans have learned to give him a whole lot of leeway when he makes a move.
When New York acquired Brandon Drury over the offseason, Cashman got that leeway, as most fans assumed he saw something in the infielder. The acquisition cost was negligible and the Yankees were going to be easing their infield prospects into the big leagues anyway. So why not, right?
All this was before the migraines, before Miguel Andujar set the American League on fire, and before the Gleyber Torres call up. After seeing all that in the span of a couple weeks, it’s the right time to wonder if Cashman still sees a role for Drury on this team.
We thought that Drury would be the third baseman of record for the Yankees, at least to begin 2018. He came up in the minors at the hot corner and New York had an obvious hole following the trade of perennial MVP candidate Chase Headley. Andujar was seen as a prospect who needed his share of polishing, especially defensively. Plus, the front office wanted to keep him in the minors long enough to secure an extra year of service time.
As we now know, Drury’s stint on the disabled list necessitated Andujar’s callup, and the kid has not looked back. It’d take a momentous shift in fortune for Drury to win back the third base job, and with an expected neck and neck race for the AL East title, it’s looking less and less likely that the Yankees would send Andujar back down to massage service time.
Drury has spent most of his major league career at second, with over 1000 innings there and playing 114 games in 2017 at the position. So it’d stand to reason that he’d have a shot at that job. Again, that was before the Yankees called up Gleyber Torres. The Yankees’ top prospect has staked his own claim at the keystone. With the team signaling he’ll have a long leash in the majors, he may be there all year. It’s possible Torres scuffles and needs to be sent back to Triple-A, but for now Drury is once again out of a position.
It looks like, at best, Drury’s avenues are limited to a bench role. Problem is, the Yankee bench is awful full at the moment. Austin Romine has to be there, and Ronald Torreyes should be there. Neil Walker has struggled to start the season, but a tireless rule of rosters states that the player with minor league options will be removed before a veteran without them. Between Drury and Walker, guess which player still has options?
Drury can ostensibly play the outfield, but he really can’t. He hasn’t spent time there since 2016, when he managed -9 DRS and -11.2 UZR/150. The lack of experience and sheer amount of badness means Drury won’t be playing on the grass, even if the Yankee outfield wasn’t chock full already.
Lots of things could change between now and Drury’s return. Andujar could start to show a few cracks, the team may decide Drury’s a better option than Torreyes for the bench, or even give him the edge over Walker in a roster crunch. But I’m writing this after watching Andujar reach base against the Twins, and Torres follow him with an RBI hit in just his third game in the bigs. It’s awful hard to see a path to playing time for Brandon Drury.