This isn’t the case every year, but the Yankees found themselves needing to make a lot of improvements by the time the trade deadline rolled around. Between the injuries and ineffectiveness that plagued the starting rotation, they were hurting for pitchers in a bad way. By the time all was said and done, the Yankees parted ways with a number of position players who spent time in the majors in 2018. They sent Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ, and sent Tyler Austin and Luis Rijo to the Twins for Lance Lynn. The three are no longer Yankees, but let’s reflect on their respective seasons one last time.
2018 Statistics: 18 games, 57 plate appearances, .176/.263/.275, 1 home run, 7 RBI, 2 runs, 2 doubles, -0.1 WAR, 49 wRC+
It’s strange now to think that Drury was meant to be the Bombers’ starting third baseman. Instead, he only made it one week into the season before hitting the disabled list with blurred vision and migraines. Those injuries kept him sidelined for months, and the Yankees took that opportunity to call up Miguel Andujar. The rookie wasted no time winning the job, and Drury only played in nine big league games after that. It just didn’t work out for him. Unfortunately, he was plunked on the hand prior to the trade. He ended up hitting the disabled list with a fracture just days after becoming a Blue Jay. Better to forget this year even happened, and try to move on in 2019.
2018 Statistics: 34 games, 132 plate appearances, .223/.280/.471, 8 home runs, 23 RBI, 16 runs, 6 doubles, 0.2 WAR, 99 wRC+
The most memorable thing Austin did as a Yankee this season was get into that brawl with Joe Kelly. He also had a two-homer game against the Blue Jays early on, and a two-homer game against the Royals. Those were fun. In all fairness to Austin, the Yankees did give him the chance to be the every day first baseman before Greg Bird was activated from the disabled list. He was fine during that time, but not great. When they ultimately decided to send him back to Scranton, it was a decision made with the idea of giving Bird a chance to get going. He didn’t, but he was still who they saw as their future first baseman. Hopefully he’ll get more playing time in Minnesota.
2018 Statistics: 2 games, 4 plate appearances, .250/.250/.250, 1 hit, -0.1 WAR, 32 wRC+
Remember at the beginning of the year when the Yankees had an outfield logjam? Then Clint Frazier got a concussion, and Jacoby Ellsbury suffered an oblique injury. To make matters worse, Aaron Hicks suffered a ribcage injury on Opening Day. McKinney got the call...and played in exactly two games before he crashed into the outfield wall and suffered a shoulder injury. Outfielders were dropping like flies for awhile there. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see him in pinstripes again.
The bad news is that the Yankees really needed him again following the Aaron Judge injury, but the deal with the Blue Jays had already happened. The good news (for McKinney) is that Toronto gave him a lot of playing time, and he hit well. He slashed .252/.320/.470 with six home runs and seven doubles during the last six weeks of the season. Good for him. We wish all three of these players the best in the future.