NEW YORK – Looking for another patch for their injury-ravaged roster, the Mets acquired outfielder Billy McKinney from the Brewers on Tuesday night for Minor League pitcher Pedro Quintana.
McKinney, 26, is a former first-round draft pick with great power, which has resulted in 21 home runs in 511 career Major League games. But he struggled to make consistent contact and reach base at the top of the game, cutting just .226 / .285 / .422 in the Majors.
Still, McKinney offers the Mets plenty of potential over the next month as they await the return of injured forwards Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Pillar. Conforto (tense right hamstrings) is only due to return at the end of June or early July, while Nimmo (nervous problem in the left hand) has no schedule for his return. Pillar could join the Mets a bit sooner after undergoing facial surgery last week, but he’s still weeks away from a comeback.
Additionally, the Mets lack center third and fourth string players Albert Almora Jr. and Johneshwy Fargas, who each suffered a shoulder injury that crashed into the fence of the outfield at Citi Field.
The Mets are likely to free up space for McKinney by placing Fargas on the injured list, which will give them 17 players on the IL. To make 40-man space for McKinney, the Mets transferred Jordan Yamamoto from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL.
Earlier this week, general manager Zack Scott essentially described McKinney when he described the type of player the Mets wanted to acquire to correct their roster: someone with enough potential to play every day, but who can accept. a lesser role once Conforto, Nimmo and others. return. McKinney certainly qualifies, having appeared in 40 of the Brewers’ 48 games this season. Although he’s only hitting .207 / .260 / .359 in those games, left-hander McKinney has hit over 100 more points against right-hander’s pitch.
Additionally, advanced metrics portray McKinney as at least an average league defender in both corner positions. Last month he pulled off one of the most memorable catches of the young season, diving to deprive Wil Myers of one more blow in San Diego.
“The players want opportunities,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said at the time. “Players like Billy sometimes feel like they don’t have a ton of opportunities, and you don’t know when they’re coming. Being able to seize these opportunities is easier said than done, but that’s what Billy does. He was a hard-hitting player. He played a very good defense. He was a spark.
McKinney is out of Minor League options, but the Mets won’t worry about his longer-term future in the organization until they have to.
“The reality is that there are a lot of opportunities now for people to play,” Scott said, “and if they play, to get those opportunities. ”
In New York, McKinney is expected to play mostly on the right court, which will allow the Mets to keep Dominic Smith on the left and use a combination of Cameron Maybin and Khalil Lee in the center. But McKinney could also play on the left if manager Luis Rojas wants to move Smith to first base. For now, the Mets are happy to use regular wide receiver James McCann first, where he has played well in two games, allowing them to keep backup receiver Tomás Nido in the lineup as well.
The pitcher the Mets dropped in the deal, Quintana, is a 17-year-old who has yet to play in a professional game. Quintana was not among New York’s top 30 prospects.