The New York Yankees have done business with the Tampa Bay Rays a few times in the last calendar year … and it feels weird.
Last year, Mike Ford was sent to Tampa in a trade after he was designated for assignment. Then, in an indirect move, Corey Kluber left the Yankees for the Rays in free agency. That’s far too much connection for Yankees fans’ liking.
It continued on Monday, though, when New York acquired pitcher David McKay from their division rivals for … nothing? The 27-year-old right-hander has appeared in just 26 career games and has an unimpressive 6.08 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 18 walks in 26.2 innings of work.
A bright spot, though? His 34 strikeouts, 4.75 FIP, and nasty curveball. Will he play any sort of role on the 2022 Yankees?
McKay will be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster, which made the deal possible with the Rays in the first place. He has one minor-league option remaining and it’s clear the Bombers value that after trading Albert Abreu, who had zero left.
As for McKay’s MLB career, he made his debut in 2019 with the Seattle Mariners after being drafted in the 14th round back in 2016 by the Kansas City Royals (the Mets had selected him in the 30th round three years prior, but he opted for college instead).
Who is Yankees’ new reliever David McKay?
Interestingly enough, this is the second time in his MLB career that McKay has been traded for $1. In 2018, the Royals shipped him (along with three other pitchers) to the Mariners for $4 total. During this journey, McKay has spent a lot of time working on his mechanics.
But he was then optioned to Triple-A Toledo after compiling a 5.14 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in his first seven MLB appearances with Seattle. That’s when he was claimed by the Detroit Tigers, who put him on the field for 18 games that same season in 2019.
The result? A very bad 5.59 ERA, but a much more promising 3.11 FIP, 1.24 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. It’s very much still not all there — and he hasn’t appeared in a game since the shortened 2020 (one, to be exact) at either the MLB or MiLB level — but the Yankees might see something in his curveball.
According to Baseball Savant, McKay ranked in the 78th percentile in fastball spin and 98th percentile in curveball spin back in 2019 (though the sample size was fairly small).
After thinning out the bullpen and overall pitching depth by sending Deivi Garcia and Luis Gil to Triple-A, trading Abreu to Texas, and losing Domingo German and Zack Britton to the 60-day injured list, among other decisions, perhaps someone with potential upside like McKay can help eat innings and provide help at Scranton.