The Yankees bring back 2 depth players in MiLB free agency

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Following a wild week of trades for the New York Yankees, they’ve added some depth to their pitching staff and outfield with the return of two members of the 2023 team. Outfielder Billy McKinney and reliever Anthony Misiewicz have returned to the team on Minor League deals according to Jack Curry of YES Network, and the team bolsters their depth with two players who showed flashes of competence for the Major League team. The Yankees depleted plenty of pitching depth in their deal for Juan Soto, and they could always use bodies in the outfield with their injury history.

Both players have familiarity in the organization, and the Yankees fill out MiLB roster spots following the Rule 5 Draft where they were pillaged by the league.

Yankees Bolster Depth On Pitching and Hitting Fronts

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees
Jun 24, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Billy McKinney (57) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Yankees’ biggest surprises from this past season was outfielder Billy McKinney who got off to a hot start after he was promoted to help an ailing Yankees’ team riddled with injuries. While he cooled off towards the end, he hit six home runs and slashed .227/.320/.406 for a 101 wRC+ and 0.4 fWAR. The 29-year-old left-handed outfielder showed off excellent power skills, with a 12.2% barrel rate and .346 xwOBA in his 48 games with the Bronx Bombers, showing versatility at all three outfield spots and even first base.

The Yankees need to add depth, as last year proved that you can quickly find yourself in a situation where you’re down multiple key starters, and McKinney is a perfectly fine depth option. He’d arguably be a fourth outfielder on some teams with his performance last season, sporting a high walk rate (11.6%) and giving the Yankees a boost when their season was still alive. Trent Grisham will fill the fourth outfield role, and Oscar Gonzalez was also added over the last two weeks to add to the outfield, but these are the right kind of flyers for the team to take.

Acquired by the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal in 2016, McKinney has been acquired by the organization three seperate times now, and the progress he showed offensively last season was enticing enough to bring him back after he was outrighted. They likely knew they could retain him at a lower cost than his roughly $1 million arbitration number, and while that’s certainly a penny pinch, they’ll need to keep close track of every dollar as they pursue Yoshinobu Yamamoto following the Juan Soto trade.

MLB: Game Two-New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Sep 12, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Anthony Misiewicz (54) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

As the Yankees look to add to their bullpen, especially their left-handed relief depth, they brought back another formerly outrighted player in Anthony Misiewicz. The 29-year-old left-hander struggled to the tune of a 7.36 ERA in his brief MLB work but had a couple of impressive outings with the Yankees before a comebacker in Pittsburgh ended his season. With the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, the southpaw struck out 28.3% of batters faced for a 3.91 ERA, which is highly impressive given that the average ERA in the International League was over 5.

Despite only 114.2 innings of MLB action, Misiewicz does possess a 3.92 FIP and 3.85 SIERA in his career, and the Yankees placed a heavier emphasis on his cutter, which boasted a 104.2 Stuff+ in Triple-A with a 35.4% Whiff Rate. He won’t be expected to get high-leverage innings at any point during the season, but they liked what they saw in Scranton and want to see if there’s more to unlock.

These are depth moves and nothing more, but the Yankees do still walk away with players that have a chance at providing competent Major League reps if need be.