This new Angel was destined to play in Anaheim

January 10th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger's Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click hereAnd subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ANAHEIM -- Angels general manager Perry Minasian has reiterated many times this offseason that he only wants to bring in players who really want to be with the ballclub.

That’s certainly the case with new addition , who grew up an Angels fan and also has a strong relationship with manager Phil Nevin, dating back to when Drury was in the Minor Leagues.

Drury, who signed with the Angels on a two-year deal worth $17 million on Dec. 22, grew up in Grants Pass, Ore., but took yearly trips to Anaheim for vacation. Drury said it’s always been a dream to play for the club he grew up rooting for, and that he turned down more lucrative offers to sign with the Angels.

“My family and I were Angels fans, so we’re really familiar with the area,” Drury said. “We used to go to Angels games and Disneyland as a kid all the time. So I really like being closer to home. And I feel like the team is so close to being really good. They’re really on the cusp of being a great team.”

Drury, 30, is coming off a career year with the Reds and Padres during which he slashed .263/.320/.492 with 28 homers, 31 doubles and 87 RBIs in 138 games. The Angels had interest in him last offseason, but he ultimately signed with the Reds on a Minor League deal after taking some advice from Nevin, who felt Drury would get more playing time in Cincinnati.

The decision worked out for Drury, and now he’s reunited with Nevin, who was his manager at Triple-A Reno in 2015 and ’16 when Drury was in the D-backs organization. Drury also played with the Yankees in 2018, when Nevin was the club’s third-base coach.

“Phil Nevin is one of my favorite coaches I’ve played for in baseball,” Drury said. “I had him in the Minor Leagues and with the Yankees in the big leagues. Me and Nev have a great relationship.”

Nevin will now be tasked with deciding where Drury will play, as the Angels are expected to mix and match in the infield -- especially after also acquiring veteran via a trade with the Twins. Drury and Urshela are best at third base, but veteran is entrenched there. Rendon, though, has had his share of injury problems, so Drury and Urshela will provide insurance. The Halos also improved their outfield depth with the signing of fan favorite Brett Phillips on Monday night.

Drury is likely to see most of his time at second base and could also serve as a platoon partner with the left-handed-hitting  at first base. Drury did a lot of his damage against left-handed pitchers in 2022, batting .299 with a .955 OPS and 12 home runs in only 155 plate appearances. He batted .248 with a .757 OPS and 16 home runs in 413 plate appearances against righties.