On the 1st day of the year, the Yankees shipped former top prospect Manny Banuelos to the Braves for 2 relievers, David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve. Surprising to me, the deal received a lot of backlash and criticism. I can understand some of the concern, Banuelos is still only 23 and he was one of the Yankee’s top prospect just several years ago. However, the trade couldn’t make more sense for the Yankees.
I for one was never overly impressed with Manny Banuelos, there have been plenty of pitchers over the years who performed well in the low minor and never made a significant impact on their team. Besides the fact that it seems that sooner or later he might see himself in the pen like Tommy Hunter, Luke Hocheaver and Wade Davis. Banuelos has had trouble pitching deep into games, like another top Yankee prospect Dellin Betances. Like Betances, Banuelos would probably perform better in relief. Looking at his minor league career you see two things:
1) His best performances were at Rookie Ball, Single-A, and High Single-A.
2) He has only pitched 100 innings twice in his minor league career.
In fact when he was dominating in Rookie Ball, he did so primarily as a reliever. In Single-A he was facing players just barely out of High School and College, and also made 7 relief appearances that year. In 2010 he made 9 starts in the Arizona Fall League and Rookie Ball, and on average threw just 3 1/3 innings. He had 10 Advanced Single-A starts and threw only 44 1/3 innings. Only in his three Double-A starts in 2010 did he average 5 innings a game. In fact he pitched so little in 2010 that he did not win a single start! His command also was not very good, but was masked when he was facing younger and more aggressive hitters, as seen by his 4.6 BB/9 in Double and Triple-A. His H/9 were increasing and his SO/9 decreasing each year, and then he had Tommy John Surgery. As a result he had 6 starts in 2 years before coming back from Tommy John. In 2014 we again see the same problems from the overhyped prospect. Banuelos made 25 starts (26 appearances) and threw just 76 innings. His plus velocity and decent stuff might have been enough in the low minors, but as you move up you need to have solid command and throw strikes.
Ok so now let’s take a look at David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve. David Carpenter is a power reliever with solid command and is kind of an upgraded version of Shawn Kelley. Carpenter is not yet arbitration eligible and is heading into his age 29 season. Chasen Shreve could be a left-handed reliever with a role resembling the one Boone Logan once had. Shrever pitched superb in 15 outings with Atlanta last year, giving up 1 run in 12 1/3 innings and having a 5.00 SO/W ratio. Chasen also had an ERA+ of 514, if only it could stay that high over a larger sample. Realistically though he will still have a solid season at age 24, and he will be under team control for 5 years. He pitched well in the minors, and it translated into big league success in his small stint in 2014.
So to sum this up the Yankees traded a starter with reliever-like stamina, for two solid relievers with better durability. Heading into 2014 the Yankees have a surplus of injury prone pitchers, to be able to obtain this much for an unproven player at the Major League level is certainly something that should make Cashman and Yankees fans everywhere smile.