The 2023 New York Yankees still seem to, almost universally, believe that success is "right out there in front of them." It's a noble public face to maintain, but behind the scenes, there simply have to be some cracks.
Harrison Bader can't really believe that a Sunday loss with 15 left on base against the Astros to split a series you should've won constitutes a step forward in momentum, right? Jake Bauers can't really believe this team will be "right there" in September after their feckless 5-1 loss in the opener against Chicago ... right?
These Yankees need a significant makeover this offseason, if not an all-out gutting, meaning the offseason is going to be very interesting, whether they get it right or not. If New York makes sweeping changes, that sells itself. If they stand pat and add marginal pieces? Whew, boy. This fan base and media will be out for blood. You thought booing Aaron Hicks on Opening Day this season was ugly? You ain't seen nothing yet.
Though lackluster play has defined this group for damn near 200 games now, a select few have made it all the more obvious in recent weeks that they shouldn't be a part of next year's roster in any capacity. Some are feel-good stories that have petered out. Some are tales of woe from a bygone era. And some have turned things around and departed this list (if IKF wanted to come back, we wouldn't say no).
On a roster full of chum, these five pieces are unfortunately closest to the edge.
5 Yankees players who haven't earned roles (or paydays) in 2024
Billy McKinney, OF
McKinney might be the saddest story of all, considering it seemed in June that the journeyman might finally have found a home.
Lefty? Check. Athletic? Athletic enough. Power to the porch and the 'pen? Yes, yes. All of that. Unfortunately, he's fallen off tremendously in recent weeks, not coincidentally coinciding with fouling a ball off his foot in an ill-fated early July series in St. Louis.
While he still carries a competent .761 OPS on the season, inexplicably one of the top marks on the team, he's batting .156 in his past 15 games and .194 in his past 30, more in line with his career averages in scattershot playing time.
A team like the Yankees (at their peak) absolutely could carry a player like McKinney on their bench for an extended period of time. He's more likely to be the last man on the roster/first man DFA'd than he is to be a constant in the outfield, though, and the past month has served as an unfortunate ticking clock for an extremely likable guy.