Yankees fans, like any fanbase, love their prospects. But sometimes you have to know when to trade them away for an even better return. Regardless of age, position, or origin, the most important thing is that the players you acquire give you an even better chance to win than the players you gave up. That's exactly what the Yankees did when they gave up Manny Banuelos for Chasen Shreve.
At the time of the trade, the deal looked like a steal for the Yankees. As much as we all loved ManBan, he was a a 24-year-old pitcher with major control problems who had been in Triple-A since 2011 and just got over Tommy John surgery. If someone was willing to give up major league assets for that, you take it. Under the original deal of David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve for Banuelos, the Yankees gave up about seven years of control in order to acquire 11 years between Carpenter (three arbitration years) and Shreve (three pre-arb and three arbitration years). Going into the season, things looked pretty good for Brian Cashman. Unfortunately, as we now know, Carpenter didn't work out and all they were left with was one decent left-handed reliever while Banuelos pitched to a 2.29 ERA in Triple-A and New York's rotation fell apart.
Then something amazing happened and Shreve turned into a shutdown reliever with a 2.04 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and a 9.17 K/9. From May 24 to July 1 (15 appearances), Shreve didn't allow a single run and kept opponents to a .078/.161/.098 batting line as he went from a Triple-A reliever to a backend weapon. At one point, when Andrew Miller was hurt and Adam Warren was still in the rotation, Shreve looked like the de facto setup man and could have served as the backup closer when Dellin Betances was overworked if the opportunity ever came up. Now he's been pushed back down the ladder with Miller and Warren back in the bullpen, but that just goes to show how strong the Yankees bullpen is when someone like Shreve ends up being your sixth inning guy, or whatever you want to call him.
So far he's been worth 0.5 WAR, which doesn't sound like much, but actually makes him the third-most valuable reliever on the team and actually within the top 10 of everyone on the roster. And the Yankees will have him for another five years if they choose to. Banuelos just made his major league debut this month and so far things have held up, but who knows what he'll end up developing into, or how long it could take. The Yankees have Shreve now and for the future and he's contributing right now where they needed the help. Even with New York's rotation woes, would they have given Banuelos a chance? Remember, the Braves are pretty bad this year, so they can afford to give playing time to their developing prospects, while the Yankees, who are stuck in a more competitive (albeit mediocre) division race, can't really wait for someone to figure things out.
It once felt like trading Shane Greene, David Phelps, and ManBan in the same offseason was a poor idea if you're a fan of pitching depth, but Banuelos would never have been considered an option at this point in the season. Shreve is an option now and even if one half of the original deal fell through, the part that worked out has been worth it. Hopefully Manny Banuelos will succeed, but regardless of what happens from here, the Yankees made the right choice for right now.