MLB's Underrated Free Agent

MLB's Underrated Free Agent

2022

MLB's Underrated Free Agent

By

Via K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune

MLB Free Agency is scheduled to open on November 10th, and there’s a ton of top names that many are excited to see where they land. But one player isn’t getting the attention they deserve: Padres INF/OF Brandon Drury. The 30 year old, eight year MLB veteran was traded to the Padres during this year’s trade deadline after amassing a .274/.335/.520 line with 20 home runs, 59 RBIs and 22 doubles with the Reds in 92 games. With the Padres, Drury only put up a .238/.290/.435 line with eight home runs, 28 RBIs and nine doubles but was still productive, especially in the postseason.

According to Baseball Savant, Drury ranked in the 85th percentile for exit velocity, 62nd for hard hit %, 72nd in barrel, and 67th in whiff percentage. He did struggle placing below league average in xBA, walk percentage, chase rate and strikeout rate. 

Drury has amassed a career .252/.302/.434 line, with a .736 OPS, 79 home runs, 277 RBIs, and 133 doubles. Where Drury exceeds is in his versatility, over his career he’s amassed games at every position other than center field and catcher:

  • First Base: 48 Games
  • Second Base: 192 Games
  • Third Base: 211 Games
  • Shortstop: 11 Games
  • Left Field: 134 Games
  • Right Field: 126 Games
  • Designated Hitter: 32 Games
  • Pinch Hitter: 84 Games

As noted Drury is a piece many teams can use as a bench bat but he’s also starting caliber when it comes to providing an above average power and contact bat. Granted the below average plate discipline and batting vision, but he’s shown to be average over his career which the modern day MLB is transitioning towards. Drury, while a versatile defender, doesn’t struggle to provide quality to above average defense either. He placed 71st in OAA (outs above average) in 2022, 78th percentile in 2021 and 2020. His two best seasons came in 2019 (88th percentile) and 2018 (95th percentile).  He’s also never placed lower than the 61st percentile for arm strength. 

Drury’s best fit is likely as a stopgap player, and he should earn a good contract between two to three seasons, projected to earn 7.5 million on average per season. Drury isn’t only a stop gap player and can start, which is what his likely role will be in 2023. There’s numerous teams that could use his services but the biggest five seem to be the Detroit Tigers, Oakland As, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, and Colorado Rockies. He likely will fit best as a starting third baseman for a team but does have second base versatility. In an overall weak market for both positions, expect Drury to get quality pay quickly and be able to pick his landing spot.

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