Though he was the butt of many jokes following the 2023 season, Billy McKinney provided the Yankees with surprisingly impressive offense (from the left side of the plate) and defense as a total wild card option.
He was exiled off the 40-man roster in the team's first year-end splurge, along with Franchy Cordero and Ryan Weber, but joined lefty Anthony Misiewicz in making his valiant return to the Yanks' minor-league system last week.
A 40-man spot was a little too precious for these purposes, especially considering the heavy lifting the Yankees intend to do this offseason. But a minor-league flyer? Of course that worked. McKinney had a 98 OPS+ in a pinch last season, and his marks were far higher before he fouled a ball off his ankle in St. Louis and fouled up his season.
And, just like that ... the Yankees removed the McKinney Option again on Thursday, dealing him to the Pirates. Jack Curry dropped it; McKinney will head to Pittsburgh in exchange for money that will be deposited in New York's international bonus pool.
Yankees trade Billy McKinney to Pirates for International Bonus Money
You may remember International Bonus Money for participating in the Adam Warren trade several years ago. Good to have Money back.
This is an odd move for Pittsburgh, mainly because McKinney was a free agent last week before rejoining the Yankees on a minor-league deal. The Pirates could've simply signed McKinney when he was available. Once the Yankees grabbed him, they got tempted and splurged? The veteran outfielder won't join Pittsburgh's 40-man, either. It's a lateral move, though one that presents more obvious upside, now that the Yankees' outfield has gotten significantly more clogged.
Who's to say where the Yankees' new international money is going, but they're reportedly hot on the trail of outfielder Francisco Vilorio, one of the top prospects in this summer's pool (though not quite at the level of Roderick Arias or Jasson Dominguez). Every little bit helps.
Of all the Yankees' fill-in outfielders, McKinney had the highest concentration of moments last season on both sides of the ball. It's very easy to wish him well.