When Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made a three-way trade on Tuesday with the Diamondbacks and Rays, he fanned the fire of the infield battles being waged for starting and utility jobs.
The Yankees acquired second-baseman/utility man Brandon Drury from the Diamondbacks; the Diamondbacks get outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and left-handed pitcher Taylor Widener from the Yanks; the Rays net right-handed pitcher Anthony Banda from the Diamondbacks and infielder Nick Solak from the Yankees.
Dave Schoenfield of ESPN.com speculates that the Drury deal:
"…means that the two Yankees rookies aren’t going to be handed Opening Day starting jobs at second and third base."
In 2017, the 25-year-old Drury started 109 games at second base (and one game at third base) and hit .261/.317/.447 for the Diamondbacks.
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Drury showcased his versatility in 2016 with the Diamondbacks when he played one game at first base, 16 games at second base, 29 games at third base, 32 games in right field and 62 games in left field.
Randy Miller of NJ.com reports that one scout referred to Drury as a “blue collar gamer:
"This guy can play,” the scout said. “He’s a blue-collar gamer. He’s OK at second base, he can play third and he can swing the bat. I like him a lot."
Yankees’ fans are going to like Drury a lot too as he’s an established major league player that provides the experience that the two rookies, highly regarded as they are, lack.
Recently, manager Aaron Boone was asked what it would take for Torres and Andujar to make the Opening Day roster, Boone said, “…performance matters to a degree, but its a super small sample size.”
Such a statement leads me to believe that experience rather than performance, perhaps, is the key to making the Opening Day roster.
Boone goes on to say:
"So I feel like if either one of those guys were to make out Opening Day roster, it would be clear in our eyes and probably somewhat of a consensus that there’s no denying these guys belong on the club."
The battle is on. Can the rookies without experience, but elite skills and abilities, win Opening Day jobs against established major league players, such as Drury and Danny Espinosa?