Years ago, Manny Banuelos was one of the most regarded arms in the Yankees’ farm system. Unfortunately, a brief regression followed by elbow surgery threw his trajectory off. In 2015, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in the deal that brought Chasen Shreve to New York … and he eventually was part of the Luke Voit trade. Overall, pretty good asset management by Brian Cashman.
Banuelos made his MLB debut in 2015, but wasn’t very good. What followed a rough campaign in the minors in 2016, stints in the Angels’ and Dodgers’ systems in 2017, then an extended stay with the Chicago White Sox from 2018-2019.
He returned to MLB in 2019, but was really bad. His 6.93 ERA in 16 games (eight starts) was further justified by his 6.57 FIP. A near-impossible 1.84 WHIP (33 walks in 50.2 innings!) made it even worse.
But Banuelos has been working on a bit of a comeback over the last few years, playing some ball in China and Mexico. And the results have been solid.
A 2.60 ERA in his final 10 games of 2020 followed by a 2.51 mark in 21 games last year? OK! So the Yankees have decided to take a flier on him … again.
Yankees sign former top prospect Manny Banuelos to minor-league contract.
Can the Bombers continue the storyline of maximizing the efficiency of previously unimpressive lefties? Blake and Co. managed to do it with Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta and Joely Rodriguez in 2021.
Then again, Banuelos’ usage needs to be determined. He’s mostly been a starter for his career, but has flip-flopped between the bullpen various times. During his recent surge, 30 of his 32 games have been starts.
Either way, the Yankees will need arms to eat innings in 2022, whether it be via spot starts or long relief appearances. It was evident the bullpen was taxed in 2021 because of the rotation’s inability to pitch deep into games outside of Gerrit Cole, and if that’s going to be the case again, the staff needs insurance instead of using Chad Green for ~80 innings.
The jury’s very much still out on Banuelos and if he’ll be able to translate his recent international success to Yankees’ spring training, but it’s not a bad move for the front office to make when major league transactions are banned at the moment.