Yankees trade lefty outfield bat to Pirates

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

The New York Yankees are still wheeling and dealing while they wait for Yoshinobu Yamamoto to make a decision on his future. General manager Brian Cashman, pitching coach Matt Blake, and owner Hal Steinbrenner all traveled to Los Angeles to meet with the Japanese international star, who also met with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets recently.

In fact, Yamamoto also met with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, so he is still doing his rounds and trying to come to a decision. Ultimately, there will be a number of high-profile teams that offer him a similar amount of money. It is just a matter of destination and attractiveness. The Yankees feel good about their pitch, and the overall vibes indicate they lead the pack along with the Dodgers for his signature.

The Yankees Continue to Make Smaller Moves

However, Cashman executed a small deal on Thursday, moving lefty outfield bad Billy McKinney to the Pittsburgh Pirates for international signing money. After first being reported as cash considerations, the Yankees will now have more funds for international talent, which could mean a significant play at Roki Sasaki next off-season. If you are unfamiliar with Sasaki, he is a 22-year-old Japanese super talent who is expected to take the Shohei Ohtani route through the MLB instead of waiting and being posted by a foreign team.

Sasaki hits triple digits on his fastball and posted a 1.78 ERA across 91 innings this past season at just 21 years old in a JPPL. The Yankees could make a strong push for services, and having Yamamoto may make things even more desirable.

Nonetheless, international money could also be spent on prospects coming out of a number of countries. That’s how the Yankees ended up landing Dominguez, Oswald Pazza, Roderick Arias, and many more. Young players with developmental upside are also key for the future, so the Yankees want to have a bit more flexibility there.

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The outgoing McKinney is a 29-year-old outfielder who played well for the Yankees last season. Across 48 games, McKinney hit .227/.320/.406, including six homers and 14 RBIs, with a 26.5% strikeout rate and 11.6% walk rate. His 101 wRC+ indicated he was just above average as an offensive weapon.

However, with the additions of Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham, there’s no need for McKinney anymore. They also have Estevan Florial and Everson Pereira available if need be, not to mention newly acquired Oscar Gonzalez off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians.

Clearly, the Yankees have plenty of work left to do this off-season, but all eyes are on Yamamoto over the next few days since he’s expected to decide on his next team before Christmas.