Yankees’ roster shakeup: What led to McKinney’s departure?

Almost seven years after he was acquired by the Yankees from the Cubs, McKinney made his pinstripe debut, homering and tripling in a doubleheader against the White Sox.

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The New York Yankees executed a series of strategic roster maneuvers on Thursday, parting ways with several players in a bid to reshape their team for the future. These adjustments have cleared valuable roster space, which may set the stage for new acquisitions, be it through free agency signings or promoting talented prospects from within the organization.

McKinney’s departure

One notable player affected by these roster changes is outfielder Billy McKinney. At 29 years old, McKinney finds himself at a crossroads in his career. He is now faced with a critical decision: he can either opt for free agency, explore potential opportunities with other teams, or accept reassignment to Triple-A. In the minor leagues, McKinney would have the opportunity to fine-tune his skills and make necessary improvements in preparation for a possible return to the majors in 2024.

McKinney’s recent performance in the league has been noteworthy. In 48 games, he maintained a .227 batting average, with a respectable .320 on-base percentage. He contributed six home runs and drove in 14 runs. His strikeout rate stood at 26.5%, offset by an 11.6% walk rate, resulting in a 101 wRC+ that signaled he was a slightly above-average offensive player in the previous season.

McKinney’s numbers with the Yankees

What particularly stands out in McKinney’s offensive arsenal is his impressive power at the plate. He posted career-high metrics, including a 41.1% hard-hit rate, a 12.2% barrel rate, and an 89.1 average exit velocity, with a peak exit velocity of 109.7 mph. These statistics indicate that he has been making solid contact and has the potential to add value and diversity to any lineup.

An intriguing aspect of McKinney’s performance was his success against left-handed pitchers, where he boasted a batting average of .333 and a .400 on-base percentage, albeit in a limited sample size of just nine at-bats. Against right-handed pitchers, his numbers were less stellar, with a .218 batting average and a .314 OBP, although all six of his home runs came against righties.

On the defensive front, McKinney logged 333 outfield innings. Despite a -2 defensive runs saved and a -1 out above average, he maintained a perfect fielding percentage. Some could argue that McKinney, as a left-handed batter who can also play first base, could have been a more valuable asset than Jake Bauers, who shares similar characteristics.

Bauers, at 28 years old, played in 84 games, but his offensive numbers lagged behind McKinney’s. He registered a .202 batting average, a .279 OBP, and a .413 slugging percentage, along with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs. His offensive production was reflected in his 89 wRC+, which was below McKinney’s. However, the Yankees might perceive untapped potential in Bauers that justifies further development.

As for McKinney’s path forward, there is a glimmer of hope as he could get another opportunity during spring training to secure a spot on the roster. However, the specter of free agency hangs overhead, presenting a potential challenge in finding a new team that aligns with his skill set and expectations. In the grander scheme of the Yankees’ strategy, it appears they are committed to bolstering team depth and investing in prospects who offer greater potential for the 2024 season.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

3 thoughts on “Yankees’ roster shakeup: What led to McKinney’s departure?

  1. I rather would’ve kept McKinney over Bauer. Bauer strike out too much, especially in crucial spots and usually on three pitches. McKinney aleast gives you a fight and is a switch hitter.

  2. This is insanity at its highest level. McKinney had one of the hottest bats on the team in a time when almost every other player was not hitting! So how do the Yankees reward his contributions? They release him! It’s decisions like this that put the Yankees in the position that they are: last place and no playoffs! Fine move!

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