The chess game continues between the American League East superpowers. On Tuesday, the Yankees landed reliever Zach Britton to bolster the best bullpen in baseball. The Red Sox countered on Wednesday, snagging Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays for LHP Jalen Beeks. Today, the Yankees added to their rotation, leaving the Red Sox primed for a Friday move.
Happ was long sought after by the Yankees, as well as a bevy of other teams, as one of the better left-handed arms in a not-so-exciting MLB Trade Deadline starting pitching market. The 35-year-old reliever has spent 12 years in big league rotations, the Yankees now his sixth team.
The 6’5” southpaw found a lot of success in Toronto highlighted by a 20-win campaign in 2016. Happ appeared to find the fountain of youth to start the 2018 season, on pace for career-bests in strikeouts-per-nine, but a horrific July in which he went 0-3 with a 7.41 ERA and 1.84 WHIP lowered his trade value from top-end prospects to the nice return the Blue Jays received.
So, who did the Blue Jays get?
Drury is a nice pickup. The right-handed hitting infielder and outfielder had a nice rookie campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016 slashing .282/.329/.458 with 31 doubles and 16 home runs. He remained solid in 2017 before being sent to the Yankees in a three-way deal this past offseason.
The Yankees acquired Drury to give Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres more time to develop in the minors, as he has the abilities to play both second and third. Unfortunately for Drury, both Andujar and Torres exceeded expectations, and an early season trip to the DL has made Drury a Triple-A player for most of the season. That said, he should be able to have a lot more time in the Toronto lineup, especially if Josh Donaldson may be on the move.
The prospect in the deal is Billy McKinney. Here’s what they got:
Billy McKinney, OF/1B
McKinney is a player whose name is often called this time of year. The Oakland A’s 2013 first-rounder was sent to the Cubs in 2014 as part of the Addison Russell, Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija deal. Two years later, the Cubs sent McKinney with Gleyber Torres and others to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal. Like the San Francisco Giants of the trade market, McKinney is once again on the move.
John had McKinney ranked No. 12 heading into the season. He got a big opportunity when Tyler Austin was injured (again) in spring training and exploded, hitting .400 with three home runs, becoming a favorite for big-league time in 2018. Here’s what John said:
Age 23, certainly a well-known prospect at this point having been involved in two major trades; hit .250/.339/.431 in 232 at-bats in Double-A then .306/.336/.541 in 209 at-bats in Triple-A; in a certain sense nothing has changed, still combines average overall tools with hustle and good game feel; in another sense I really don’t know what to make of him at this point; hits extremely well at times but prone to stretches of mediocre performance; at this point I’m not sure who the real McKinney is; will just slap a B- on there and call it good for now. ETA 2018.
McKinney is now 23 years old. The left-handed hitter plays primarily outfield, but did pick some reps at first base this fall. He finally made his big-league debut this season, but it was short lived, going 1-for-4 with a single before an injured left shoulder landed him on the DL and heading back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Here’s a look at McKinney’s swing breakdown, arguably his greatest strength, from a previous scouting report:
McKinney has an interesting approach at the plate. He almost winds up into his stands, getting down low before posting up back in the box. He stands a little wide and it appears he has his weight on that back foot. McKinney bounces a little bit pre-pitch, knees bent inward, bat held straight up, hands just below his head. He gets the bat through the strike zone quickly, using more of a slide than a step to approach the ball.
McKinney actually seemed somewhat aggressive for someone with his plate discipline. Batting fifth, he attacked a 1-1 pitch in his first at-bat, driving it to deep right field. McKinney did work a count in his second at-bat, flying out to deep left on a 3-2 count. He then drove his third pitch of his third at-bat to center field. He struck out on four pitches in his final at-bat, chasing two low pitches.
McKinney too is a nice get for the Blue Jays. His smooth, left-handed swing has always generated nice contact, despite the contact numbers being down in a injury-laden year, though his power seems to be right on pace to where it’s been. Not overly athletic, he seems destined for left field, but his versatility in handling right field and, albeit briefly, first base, should help him crack the Blue Jays big league roster this season.