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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Billy McKinney

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays-Media Day Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Billy McKinney is a left-handed hitting outfielder who came to us in the J.A. Happ trade, along with Brandon Drury.

He was a first round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2013. In 2014 the A’s sent him to the Cubs in a big trade that had Addison Russell and Dan Straily go with him to the Cubs, for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.

In 2016 the Cubs traded him, Gleyber Torres and Adam Warren to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman.

He started the 2018 season on the Yankee’s roster, and played in their 2nd and 3rd game of the season and then he went on the DL with a shoulder strain and never made it back to the Yankees. Funnily enough, he hurt his arm running into the wall at Rogers Centre, hitting one of the ‘scoreboard’ pieces on the outfield wall. You’d think the players’ association would be asking for those to be removed.

Billy’s a former top 100 MLB prospect, Baseball Prospectus had him #81 before the 2015 season and 74 before 2016. But he had a down year in 2016, hitting .246/.342/.338 in 123 games in Double A in the Cubs system.

2017 went better, hitting .277/.338/.483 in 124 games split between AA and AAA in the Yankees’ system, but once you fall off those top 100 prospects lists, it is tough to get back on.

After the trade to the Jays, and a less than excellent 20 games in Buffalo (where he hit 203/.292/.453), he was called up to Toronto on August 18th. For the Jays, he played 36 games, and hit .252/.320/.470. He looked pretty good in left field.

This year? It does look like the Blue Jays intend to have Billy McKinney platoon in left field with Teoscar Hernandez, as much as I continue to hope that the Jays will decide to give Dalton Pompey a job (but that’s a subject for another time).

They are going to give Billy some time at first base this spring. I don’t know that there is a plan to move him there, I think it is more to have some flexibility, if Justin Smoak needs a day off or if they decide to pinch run for him, McKinney could fill in for him.

McKinney doesn’t have much experience at first base. He’s played 15 games at first in the minors and he played an inning there for us back in September. He throws left-handed, so that’s a plus for playing first and he’s more mobile than Kendrys Morales.

Of course, I wonder if they are keeping their options open in case they can find a trade for Smoak near the deadline this year.

Anyway, ZiPS figures Billy to hit .229/.295/.407 with 15 home runs and a 1.0 WAR in 499 PA. Personally, if he doesn’t hit better than that, I can’t see him getting 499 PA.

I am curious to see how his career plays out. I don’t know if he’ll be a star, but I think he could be a solid outfielder and will be good enough until a star comes along.


If the over/under McKinney’s home runs is 15 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    (129 votes)
  • 56%
    (165 votes)
294 votes total Vote Now


If the over/under on McKinney innings at first base is 40 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    (94 votes)
  • 64%
    (171 votes)
265 votes total Vote Now