Yankees promote unexpected outfielder to replace Aaron Judge

billy mckinney, yankees
Mar 12, 2023; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Billy McKinney (63) scores a run against the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning during spring training at JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s important to clarify that no one can fully replace New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge; the best one can hope for is to supplement a fraction of his production.

To fill the roster vacancy left by Judge, who is set to spend 10 days on the injured list due to a sprained right big toe that sustained ligament damage, the Yankees considered a few options from their Triple-A affiliate.

Judge’s absence is a blow to the currently thriving Yankees, who rely heavily on his offensive contributions. With a batting average of .291, an OBP of .404, 19 home runs, 40 RBIs, and a wRC+ of 188, Judge is undoubtedly the Yankees’ most valuable player. His absence was felt during Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. However, due to poor air quality, Wednesday’s game was postponed, and the team is scheduled to play a doubleheader on Thursday.

An unexpected outfield option for the Yankees:

Manager Aaron Boone chose to promote 28-year-old left-handed batter Billy McKinney, bypassing Franchy Cordero and Estevan Florial.

Last year, McKinney played 23 games with Oakland, boasting a .096 batting average and a .158 OBP. Over the course of his career, he’s played 263 MLB games, securing a career average of .206 with a .277 OBP, 28 home runs, and 72 RBIs with a 77 wRC+.

McKinney’s most successful season was in 2018, when he played for both the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays, achieving a combined batting average of .252 with a .318 OBP. He hit six home runs, contributed 13 RBIs, and posted a 111 wRC+.

McKinney brings versatility to the team, having experience in both corner outfield positions as well as first base. He’s logged 1443.2 innings in the outfield, with a .981 fielding percentage, three defensive runs saved, and -3 outs above average.

As mentioned earlier, McKinney isn’t expected to even partially cover Judge’s value, but it appears that the Yankees have lost confidence in Franchy Cordero and are reluctant to give Florial another chance.

Before being sent back to Triple-A, Cordero hit .148 with a .179 OBP across 19 games. He was brought up only occasionally as a last resort. It appears that the Yankees desire new talent, and McKinney certainly provides that.

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