Reds infielder Brandon Drury is among the more obvious candidates to be traded in the coming weeks, as he’s having an excellent year and is an impending free agent on one of the worst teams in baseball. He was placed in the 13th slot on MLBTR’s recent list of top trade candidates. Andy Martino of SNY took a look at some trade candidates that make sense for the Mets, listing Drury among them, but noting that the Dodgers and Giants are “showing more interest” in Drury right now.
The Dodgers have long had a tendency to covet versatile players and Drury certainly fits that mold. With Cincy this year, Drury has moved around the infield to fill in as needed, depending on the injury status of his teammates. He’s played 51 games at third, 20 games at second, five at first and a couple at short. He hasn’t played the outfield this year but has manned the corners in previous seasons. The advanced metrics differ as to the quality of his glovework overall, but he’s generally viewed as a passable defender wherever he plays on the infield. Along the way, he’s hit 18 home runs and slashed .276/.334/.536 for a wRC+ of 136.
The Dodgers recently placed their incumbent super utility man Chris Taylor on the injured list with a fractured foot. Though he’s going to be out until after the All-Star break, it seems possible he returns before the August 2 trade deadline. The larger issue might be that some of their veteran infielders aren’t living up to their potential this season. Gavin Lux is having a great year but is playing a lot of left field lately to cover for Taylor’s absence. Justin Turner was ice cold to start the year but has gone on a tear of late to get himself back above league average for the year. Max Muncy, on the other hand, hasn’t gotten into a groove yet this season, currently sitting on a batting line of .161/.313/.309, wRC+ of 86. He seemingly hasn’t been himself since injuring his UCL late last year, spending some time on IL due to that issue this season. Hanser Alberto is on the bench and hits right-handed, making him a theoretical option to platoon with Muncy or just give him time off in general. However, he’s hitting just .222/.232/.346, producing a wRC+ of just 61, making Drury a sensible upgrade there.
As for the Giants, they’ve also been fans of the versatility model, hardly surprising given the fact that president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi came over from the Dodgers. Evan Longoria and Tommy La Stella are currently on the IL but neither is expected to be out for an extended period of time. Longoria is having a nice season but has played in just 44 games due to injuries, with La Stella similarly playing just 35. The oft-injured Brandon Belt has played just 48 games and has been DHing often due to knee issues, manager Gabe Kapler tells reporters, including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. That’s left Wilmer Flores playing a lot of second base and rookie David Villar covering the hot corner, while LaMonte Wade Jr. has come in from the outfield to play some first base, along with Darin Ruf as well. Thairo Estrada is in the mix but has also been playing some shortstop to give Brandon Crawford some days off. There’s a lot of moving parts there, which will likely keep moving, based on how the Giants operate and based on the health of the players. But with Crawford, Longoria, Belt, La Stella and Ruf all over 33 years old, it makes sense to keep rotating them in and out as much as possible to prevent wear and tear. Drury’s ability to play all over could make him a sensible add, with his role changing over the coming months as these situations change.
Given Drury’s ability to move around the diamond, there’s very few teams that couldn’t fit him in somewhere. His 136 wRC+ is 27th in the majors among qualified hitters, making him better than at least a few regulars in most lineups and certainly better than each team’s bench options. The Dodgers are the best team in the National League with a record of 56-30, making them clear deadline buyers. In a recent conversation with Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman downplayed the possibility of another headline-grabbing deal like last year’s acquisition of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. But it stands to reason they will at least look for complementary pieces like Drury. As for the Giants, they’ve fallen on hard times recently and are currently outside of the postseason picture. Their 44-42 record has them two games back of the Cardinals for the final National League Wild Card spot. Their play between now and the August 2 trade deadline will surely determine whether they buy or sell and to what extent. Zaidi essentially admitted as much when talking to reporters yesterday (links via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle and Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area).
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