The New York Yankees haven’t filled the vacant left field position with a legitimate starter just yet, but they have inked several players to minor league contracts in hopes of creating competition.
Their latest signing is Billy McKinney, who spent the 2022 season with the Oakland Athletics, featuring in 23 games. The lefty hit .096 with a 15.8 OBP, including one homer and four RBIs. He played a career-high 116 games back in 2021, featuring with the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit a combined .192 with a 28% on-base rate, nine homers, and 27 RBIs.
Unfortunately, McKinney doesn’t stand out as an above-average player by any means, not containing elite sprint speed to help on the base paths or legitimate offensive quality.
In fact, McKinney has found himself in the middle of multiple trades, first being acquired by the Yankees in the deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2016 trade deadline. General manager Brian Cashman then moved McKinney and Brandon Drury in exchange for J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays in 2018.
The former 24th overall pick certainly hasn’t had the easiest career, lacking a legitimate opportunity with the same club over a real sample size. He’s been moved around consistently, but at 28 years old, this could be a prime opportunity to fight his way onto an active roster.
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The Yankees need experience in left field, and Billy McKinney provides that:
Once thought to be a top prospect and potential centerfielder, McKinney can now fill the corner outfield spots, and with a vacancy in left field for the Yankees, he will bring some experience to the equation.
Despite his poor Major League efficiency, McKinney has performed well at the Triple-A level. He’s hit .271 with a 34.8% on-base rate, including 42 homers over 992 plate appearances.
The Yankees might be intrigued by those metrics and looking to extrapolate on his talents, but I wouldn’t expect him to carve out a big role on a team that has World Series aspirations. The more likely move is that prospect Oswaldo Cabrera gets the first crack if the team doesn’t trade for an option like Max Kepler or even Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kepler has some pop to his bat and is known for his defensive quality, but Reynolds would be the blockbuster deal that truly upgrades the position after rolling with Aaron Hicks predominantly in 2022.