Pirates outfielder Billy McKinney is still on the outside looking in

Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day
Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

In December the Pittsburgh Pirates made a trade with the New York Yankees. It was a minor trade that did not really catch any headlines outside of the two markets. The Pirates were able to acquire outfielder and former first round pick Billy McKinney in exchange for International Bonus money. However, there was something else that made this trade unique in a way.

The Yankees had just signed McKinney about a week before they traded him to the Pirates. The team let him go and then resigned him as a minor league free agent. The Pirates must have had some interest in signing him. Still, it is rare to see a player sign and be traded in such a quick fashion.

The pickup of McKinney made a lot of sense at the time. The left-handed hitting outfielder looked like he could be a prime candidate to platoon with right-handed hitting Edward Olivares. The fact that he has played some first base looked like it was another reason to acquire him.

A lot has changed since then. The Pirates have added a few different players with the most recent transaction being the one that is likely to keep McKinney off the Big League roster. The Pirates signed former National, Royal, and Twin, Michael A. Taylor. Taylor is coming off a season in which he posted 21 home runs and posted a rating of 5 in terms of DRS (defensive runs saved). For comparison, Jack Suwinki posted a -10 playing center field in 2023.

With Taylor coming in, Suwinksi will not bounce back to right field. He has shown that ability to play average defense in right so it benefits him in a way. However, the outfield is now pretty crowded. Taylor is likely to play nearly every game and obviously, Bryan Reynolds has left field locked down. Olivares looks to be the rotating fourth outfielder. The team also has Connor Joe as an emergency 5th option.

The Pirates bench currently is full without McKinney on it.

On the bench will be Connor Joe, Jared Triolo/Liover Peguero, Yasmani Grandal, and Edward Olivares. The team will not have a spot open for McKinney. So while he has done everything he can do to make the club, he most likely will not barring any last minute injuries. The fact that he is on a minor league deal will allow the Bucs to send him to Triple-A, as he is not on the 40-man roster which in turn protects him from being DFA'd and potentially claimed through waivers.