From the day Manny Bañuelos emerged out of the Yankees non-roster invitee pile during the middle of spring training, his odds of contributing at the big-league level remained extremely long.
After all, the Yankees’ 40-man roster was meticulously crafted during the offseason, with enough accommodations made for several top prospects who needed protecting. In order to earn an MLB call-up with the team that originally signed him a decade prior, the 31-year-old would have to somehow get his hands on a spot. In order to stay the whole season, he’d have to really distinguish himself — and, even then, he still might be in constant trouble of losing his position.
Somewhere along the way, the strangest thing happened, though. Bañuelos dominated through the entirety of the spring, and ended up among the highest-up arms on the depth chart when the Bombers needed reinforcements. Not only did ManBan eventually put on the pinstripes for the first time, but he performed admirably, holding a 2.16 ERA across four outings.
As expected, though, an effective few outings as the last man in the bullpen, along with an inspiring story, were not enough to keep him around all year long.
Bañuelos was DFA’d to make room for JP Sears’ spot start a few days back, and had to clear waivers in order to stick around in the organization.
On Sunday, after a few days of silence, word surfaced that he was headed to Pittsburgh in exchange for cash.
Yankees trade Manny Bañuelos to Pirates after DFA
And thus ends one of the more heartwarming stories of the season — though Bañuelos will certainly get more chances to contribute in Pittsburgh this summer. Perhaps the Yankees will even see him when they travel to PNC Park on Tuesday.
Ultimately, the Yankees picked the twice-DFA’d Albert Abreu over Bañuelos, an upside play who Matt Blake already appears to have unlocked. Abreu’s 99 MPH heat was too tempting to resist, meaning Bañuelos’ return engagement with the Yankees had to end.
Is there something up Brian Cashman’s sleeve? It’s possible. But this is probably just the semi-heartless residue of a season’s worth of working with a packed roster.
Once upon a time, Bañuelos was supposed to be a premium piece, a left-handed starter with devastating offspeed stuff who couldn’t be rattled. Then, one Tommy John and trade to the Braves later, and his prognosis had changed significantly.
He has lived out his original Yankee dream, though, an enjoyable element to the season that shouldn’t be discounted, even if it was never built to last.