Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Target: Infielder Brandon Drury

Angels infielder Brandon Drury could be an excellent trade target for the Pirates.
Sep 20, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Brandon Drury (23)
Sep 20, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Brandon Drury (23) / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels veteran infielder Brandon Drury may be put on the trade block this winter and would be an excellent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates will need to explore both the free agent and trade market for a first base option, at least for the 2024 season. The free agent market has some solid options available, but the trade market also has some interesting players. One of those potential players is infielder Bradon Drury from the Los Angeles Angels.

Drury had a quality 2022 campaign with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres, batting .263/.320/.492 with a .350 wOBA and 124 wRC+. Drury went yard 28 times with a .230 isolated slugging percentage. His 22% strikeout rate was slightly above average, but his 6.7% walk rate left much more to be desired. Still, it was a great platform season, and it earned him a Silver Slugger for utility men and a two-year deal from the Angels.

In his first season with the Angels, he posted another quality .262/.306/.497 triple-slash. Drury hit 26 home runs with a .235 isolated slugging percentage, almost completely replicating his 2022 power output. But his strikeout rate rose to 26% while his walk rate dropped to just 4.8%. That’s slightly worrying, but he still posted a .339 wOBA and 114 wRC+, meaning he was 14% above the league average.

Despite his plate discipline taking a downturn, there were a handful of other positives to his offensive game. He had an 89.9 MPH exit velocity, 46.3% hard hit, and 11% barrel rate. All were well above the league average, with the worst being his exit velo, which was still in the 60th percentile. His hard-hit rate was in the 70th percentile, while his barrel rate was in the 77th percentile.

Drury primarily played second base and was generally regarded as a solid defender. While defensive runs saved viewed him in a negative light at -2, outs above average pinned him as an above-average glove at +5 OAA, as well as UZR/150 at +3.2. But Drury still played a handful of innings at first base, where he was almost average on the dot with -1 DRS, 0 UZR/150, and no outs above average.

Drury does not need a platoon mate, either. He hit same-handed pitching nearly as well as opposite-handed pitching. When facing a righty, he batted .261/.301/.503 with a 113 wRC+. However, when facing a lefty, he posted a near-identical .262/.306/.497 slash and 114 wRC+. The only thing he did noticeably better against lefties than righties was strike out less frequently. Drury posted a 24.4% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching but a 26.5% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Even then, that’s not a massive gap.

Drury solves one of two issues, depending on your viewpoint. He could either be the starting second baseman or first baseman. The Pirates have someone who can already cover both positions, that being Jared Triolo. In my opinion, if the Pirates were to acquire Drury, he’d be better suited for first base, with Triolo taking up the keystone more frequently. While Drury is far from a bad defensive second baseman, Triolo is arguably the second-best defensive position player on the Pirates’ active roster.

The veteran infielder is owed $8.5 million across 2024 and the final year of his contract, which is less than what the Pirates spent on Carlos Santana and Ji-Man Choi combined last season. So what would it take to acquire Drury? Assuming the Pirates eat the remaining salary, I could see the Pirates willing to package one of their mid-tier pitching prospects as a headliner in a deal.

I think Drury is a great potential trade candidate. He’s a productive hitter, a solid defender, and isn’t overly expensive. The Angels may also listen to offers to some of their veteran pitchers like Griffin Canning and Patrick Sandoval, so keep that in mind as well. But I think the Pirates should put some effort into seeing if they could pry Drury from the Angels this upcoming off-season.

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