The Yankees kicked off the New Year by trading a former top pitching prospect for two pitchers who can have an impact on their bullpen this season. At about 5 p.m. on Thursday, the Yankees traded Manny Banuelos, who was a top prospect before his Tommy John Surgery, to the Atlanta Braves. The Yankees received David Carpenter, who was the top set-up man for the Braves the past two seasons, and the emerging reliever Chasen Shreve.
Trading Banuelos now makes sense but it would not have made sense a few years ago. Before he missed the 2013 season due to Tommy John Surgery and had an inconsistent 2011 and 2012, he was one of three up-and-coming starters in the organization who along with Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman were known as the Killer B’s. They were expected to all be productive starters in the Yankees rotation. Banuelos, is no longer a top pitching prospect as he was surpassed by Ian Clarkin, Luis Severino and Brady Lail, Brackman has retired after many injuries and Betances was an All-Star in his first full season as a relief pitcher last season.
It is possible that Banuelos will still be an effective No. 3/4 starter, but it makes sense that GM Brian Cashman was able to trade him for Carpenter and Shreve who can help the bullpen be a strength of the team in 2015. The Yankees don’t really know what they will get from CC Sabathia, Nate Eovaldi or Chris Capuano, which makes having a deep and effective bullpen even more important.
Brian McCann, who caught Carpenter during his last season with the Braves in 2013, gave Carpenter a strong endorsement. In 2013, with McCann on the Braves, Carpenter had his best season as a pro as he pitched in 56 games, had a 1.78 ERA, 0.990 WHIP, 74 strikeouts (10.1 Ks/9 innings) and 20 walks (2.7 walks/9 innings). In 2014, his 3.54 ERA and 1.262 WHIP were a good bit worse than 2013, but his Ks/9 innings (9.9) and walks/9 innings (2.4) were the same or better than 2013. Carpenter’s fastball tops out at an impressive 99 MPH, usually throws between 95-96 and has a strong cutter & slider.
The Yankees traded Shawn Kelley about a week ago for an emerging minor leaguer from the Padres, and Carpenter’s stats should be much better than Kelley’s over the last two years. Carpenter, a 29-year-old Morgantown, West Virginia native who went to West Virginia University, will be playing in his fifth season and has previously pitched for the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Braves.
Shreve, the other player the Yankees acquired, played at Double-A, Triple-A and with the Braves last season. The 24-year-old from Las Vegas who went to the College of Southern Nevada pitched in 15 games fro the Braves after his fast ascent up the Braves system and had a stellar 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings. His 15 strikeouts led to an impressive Ks/9 innings of 10.9. Shreve, who was drafted in 2010, had a 2.67 ERA and 87 strikeouts during the 2014 season while pitching in 36 games for Double-A Mississippi and 10 games for Triple-A Gwinett.
Shreve pitched at Double-A for the first time in 2012 where he threw 18.1 innings in 11 games. earning a 2-1 record with an average 3.93 ERA. After dominating the opposition with a 2.75 ERA to start the season with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats, Shreve struggled (4.43 in 42.2 innings) after pitching with Double-A once again. He was throwing his fastball between 86 and 90 MPH during the 2013 season and didn’t look like he would soon be promoted to the show.
After struggling at the beginning of the season with Double-A in 2014, he went to his pitching coach and said that: “I can throw hard if you want me to. I choose not to, I choose to spot up,” according to Chop Country. After the meeting with his pitching coach, his average fastball improved from 91 MPH to 94 MPH and led to much better results at Double-A and his promotion to Triple-A and the Braves. He will likely begin the 2015 season with Triple-A Scranton and a call up to the Yankees by July is a definite possibility.
It is possible that the Yankees gave up too early on Banuelos, but his 4.59 ERA in 16 starts at Double-A Trenton last season proves that it was worth upgrading the bullpen so another team could gamble on him. The Yankees bullpen is now likely complete for the start of 2015, and Betances, Andrew Miller, Adam Warren, Carpenter, Shreve, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers will all be able to make an impact and serve different roles. Jacob Lindgren, who advanced to Triple-A last season after being drafted in May, should also be called up at some point.
The additions of Carpenter and Shreve give the Yankees a bullpen that could be as effective as the one the Royals had last season where the game was effectively over in the sixth inning when the Royals had the lead. It is not known who will be the closer, but Betances and Miller could share the closer spot, and Carpenter is also capable of pitching in the ninth if they both need a day off.