Drury, Angels finalize 2-year deal

December 24th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Free-agent infielder signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Angels that was announced by the club on Thursday. Right-hander Oliver Ortega was designated for assignment in a corresponding move to clear a spot on the Angels' 40-man roster.

The 30-year-old Drury teed off for a career-high 28 home runs over 138 games between the Reds and Padres in 2022, earning the Silver Slugger Award as a utility player in the National League. Drury hit .263/.320/.492 with 31 doubles and 87 RBIs, while seeing action at third base, first base, second base, shortstop and right field. He brings versatility to the Angels, who also traded for infielder and outfielder this offseason. Adding quality depth was a goal for Los Angeles and Drury fits that mold, as he has power and can play all over the diamond.

“We’ve always liked him, and he’s one of those guys with versatility who hits the ball extremely hard,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “He’s a fit from a makeup standpoint and from a versatility standpoint. He can play third, second, first and even a little short and the outfield if we need him to.”

Drury grew up in Oregon, but he was an Angels fan growing up and made frequent trips to Disneyland. He said he turned down offers for more years and dollars this offseason, because he'd always wanted to play for the Halos. Drury also has a strong relationship with manager Phil Nevin, who was his skipper at Triple-A Reno in 2015-16 and his third-base coach with the Yankees in '18.

"My family and I have always been Angels fans," Drury said. "We're really familiar with the area going to Disneyland and Angels games all the time. So I really like being closer to home. And I feel like this team is so close to be going good. Phil Nevin is also one of my favorite coaches I've played for in all of baseball."

Drury did a lot of his damage against left-handed pitchers, hitting .299 with a .955 OPS and 12 home runs in only 155 plate appearances against southpaws. He hit just .248 with a .757 OPS and 16 home runs in 413 plate appearances against righties.

Along with his power bat, the eight-year big league veteran provides plenty of versatility defensively. During his career, Drury has spent time at first base, second base, third base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots. He's also served as a designated hitter, pinch-hitter and pinch-runner at times -- and he's even made one appearance on the mound.

Drury also had an impressive showing in the 2022 NL Championship Series against the Phillies. After going a combined 1-for-15 (.067) in the NL Wild Card Series and NL Division Series, Drury went 6-for-15 (.400) with a home run and five RBIs in the NLCS.

Overall, Drury is a career .252/.302/.434 hitter with a .736 OPS and 79 home runs over his time with the D-backs, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets, Reds and Padres.

He joins an Angels infield that includes first baseman , third baseman , Urshela and middle infielders , , and . The Halos can now mix and match according to matchups, but they still lack a true everyday shortstop. Drury has some experience at short, but he is more likely to see time at second base, with Rengifo and Fletcher -- and potentially Velazquez and Soto -- seeing time at shortstop.

Minasian, though, said he believes the Angels have enough depth at short and that manager Phil Nevin can mix and match with the additions of Urshela and Drury to the infield. 
"What we've tried to do all offseason is just acquire solid, really talented baseball players," Minasian said. "Both players, with their versatility, will allow Phil to get creative and put them in the lineup a lot. I feel like we're in a better position to handle an injury or two than in recent seasons."

Much like Urshela, Drury offers some much-needed insurance, as Rendon and Walsh both dealt with injuries last year. Rendon underwent right wrist surgery, though he returned for the final few games of the year and is considered 100 percent healthy. Walsh had surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, but he is also expected to be ready for Spring Training. If either player suffers an injury, though, the Angels now have better infield depth with the additions of Urshela and Drury.

Despite the club being up for sale, the Angels have been aggressive this offseason, as they also signed lefty to a three-year deal worth $39 million and signed potential closer to a two-year deal worth $13.5 million.

"I've said this since Day 1, that ownership has permitted me to put a good team on the field, and I think they should be commended for what we've done this offseason," Minasian said. "I'm not obvlivious that historically teams that are exploring a sale haven't been as active as we've been."

Still, the Halos are not expected to be done, as they’re still looking for starting pitching and bullpen help despite adding Anderson and Estévez. The club's payroll is now at roughly $205 million, which is about $18 million more than its final payroll in 2022. For competitive balance tax purposes, the Angels' 40-man payroll sits at roughly $220 million. The first tax threshold is set at $233 million.

“We’re still exploring a lot of different areas and places to improve the club,” Minasian said. "I don't think that'll stop until we get to Spring Training. But how much more [payroll]? I'm not going to put a number on that. But again, I do think we can improve."