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We continue our look at the 2020 Blue Jays by examining an outfielder who started the season fighting for playing time and finished with another organization: Billy McKinney.
McKinney, 26, was a first-round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2013 and was noted for his sweet swing and bat speed. He was in demand as he was traded in July of 2014 from the A’s to the Cubs in a deal that had Addison Russell, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. In 2016, he was traded to the Yankees with Gleyber Torres in the big Aroldis Chapman deal.
Along the way, he remained a top-10 prospect for three years (according to Baseball America) and was the #83 prospect in baseball in 2015. He had a very solid 2017, hitting .277/.338/.483 between Double-A and Triple-A in the Yankees’ organization, combining for 29 doubles, seven triples and 16 home runs.
In 2018, McKinney started with the Yankees but injured his shoulder playing in Toronto. When he returned to action, he didn’t do all that well in Triple-A, hitting .226/.299/.495 and he was traded to Toronto as part of the J.A. Happ deal that also brought the Blue Jays Brandon Drury. After joining the Jays, he didn’t play well in Triple-A, hitting .203/.292/.453 in Buffalo but in 36 games in Toronto, he hit a respectable .252/.320/.470 with seven doubles and six home runs.
In 2019, McKinney spent most of the season in Toronto, hitting .215/.274/.422 with 14 doubles, a triple and 12 home runs in 84 games while hitting .271/.383/.488 with eight doubles, four triples and four home runs in 36 games with the Buffalo Bisons.
McKinney was definitely a part of the team’s plans for 2020, looking to try to secure a fourth outfielder spot with the Jays.
Coming into 2020, McKinney played in 12 games in spring training, hitting .222/.300/.444 with three doubles and a home run. But when baseball returned in July, McKinney was in at the Alternate Training Site until August. He played once on August 7 as a late-inning defensive replacement and then played a full game on August 20, going 2/3 with a run.
But on September 14, he was claimed on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers and had his ties to the Toronto Blue Jays severed.
Clearly, McKinney is no longer appearing on Blue Jays depth charts and the Blue Jays have had their outfield possibilities whittled away over the course of the shortened 2020 season, losing both McKinney and Anthony Alford on waivers.
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