Heyman: Yankees and Braves talked 10-player blockbuster with Heyward, Simmons, Severino last year

Simmons and Heyward. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Simmons and Heyward. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Last offseason we learned the Yankees and Braves discussed a blockbuster trade that would have brought Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons to New York for a package of prospects. We later found out Luis Severino would have been part of that trade, which makes sense. The Braves were focusing on young pitching in all their trades last winter and Severino was the best young pitcher the Yankees had to offer.

The trade didn’t go through, obviously. Heyward was traded to the Cardinals, Simmons spent another year in Atlanta before being traded to the Angels, and Severino remains a Yankee. Late last night, Jon Heyman reported some more details of the blockbuster proposal, and it was a five-for-five swap. Check out this deal:

To Yankees: Heyward, Simmons, B.J. Melvin Upton, Chris Johnson, David Carpenter
To Braves: Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Ian Clarkin, Manny Banuelos

Holy moly, that is a lot of players and a lot of talent. And also some dead roster weight. Heyman says Heyward was told the Yankees were close to getting him “many times” last offseason, for what it’s worth. Keep in mind Heyward was traded to the Cardinals on November 17th, so the Yankees and Braves discussed this blockbuster very early in the offseason. Anyway, I have some thoughts on this.

1. Heyman says the Yankees were the team that declined to pull the trigger, indicating the Braves suggested the five-for-five swap. That makes sense. I have a hard time believing the Yankees would have been willing to put that much young talent on the table — unproven minor league young talent, but young talent nonetheless — and take back what amounted to one long-term piece in Simmons. Heyward was a year away from free agency, Upton and Johnson had albatross contracts, and Carpenter was only a reliever. A good reliever (with the Braves, at least) but still only a reliever. I guess the Yankees could have signed Heyward to an extension, though that doesn’t really change the evaluation of the trade. It’s not like the Braves are giving you the extension. The trade and extension are separate transactions. Based on my 2015 Preseason Top 30 Prospects List, that trade would have sent New York’s four (!) best prospects to the Braves. Sheesh. Too much. Glad they didn’t pull the trigger.

2. I found it pretty interesting Simmons was traded this offseason to the Angels, who are now run by former Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler. I wonder if Eppler was the driving force behind the Yankees’ interest in Simmons. At the very least we know he was on board with trying to acquire Andrelton. That’s understandable. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in the world and one of the best in history. That said, I am perfectly happy with Didi Gregorius, aren’t you?

Andrelton Simmons Didi Gregorius

Simmons is very good. I would so much rather have Gregorius at the price it took to acquire him than Simmons at the price it would have taken to acquire him, and that was true last offseason. And that’s coming from someone who expected Shane Greene to have a really good year last season. I didn’t foresee him struggling that much at all. Simmons is a very good shortstop with big name value. Didi’s production is comparable, he came at a much lower cost, and he’s cheaper. In the past the Yankees went for the big name, not the smart pickup. Who is this team and what have they done with the Yankees?

3. The Heyward angle is interesting because the Yankees had a full outfield. They had Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran last offseason. What they didn’t have was an idea what they’d get from Alex Rodriguez coming off his suspension. I guess the plan was to put Heyward in right field, move Beltran to DH, and then figure things out with A-Rod later. The Yankees approached last offseason as if Rodriguez was going to be a non-factor. They re-signed Chase Headley to play third base and one of the reasons they acquired Garrett Jones was to ensure they had a backup plan at DH. (Also, Beltran was coming off surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow, so he was a question too.) They never needed that backup plan. Rod mashed from Day One. Making the four-man outfield work would have been tricky, but remember, Gardner missed a few games in April after taking a pitch to the wrist, and Ellsbury missed seven weeks after hurting his knee in May. These things have a way of working themselves out.

4. This trade was talked about very early in the offseason, so had it gone through, the Yankees probably would not have re-signed Chris Young and instead let Upton fill that role. What else would they do with him? Bossman Jr. was a total disaster in his two years with the Braves — he hit .198/.279/.314 (66 wRC+) in just over 1,000 plate appearances from 2013-14 — but he did actually have a nice year with the Padres in 2015, putting up a .259/.327/.429 (110 wRC+) batting line with five homers and nine steals in 228 plate appearances around a foot injury. That includes a .254/.369/.423 (124 wRC+) line against southpaws. Nice numbers, but as with Gregorius over Simmons, give me the guy the Yankees actually acquired (Young) over the guy they could have acquired (Upton), especially considering the acquisition cost.

Upton. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Upton. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

5. The Braves would have had to kick in money to make this trade work, right? I can’t imagine they realistically expected the Yankees to give up all that young talent and take on all that salary. Not counting the arbitration-eligible Carpenter, the four guys who would have come to New York in the trade were owed a combined $133.15M across 13 contract seasons. I know a $10.24M average annual value doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not actually spread out across 13 seasons. Most of those seasons overlap. Heyward’s very good and so is Simmons, but how could the Braves not kick in money to facilitate this trade? Substantial money too. They’d have to pay down something like $30M or even $40M of that $113.15M. Giving up all that talent and taking on all that money makes no sense for the Yankees, not when only one of the five players they were set to receive was a significant long-term asset (Simmons).

6. I think both the Yankees and Braves are better off now than they would have been had the trade gone through. The Yankees kept Severino, kept their other prospects, and acquired Gregorius to take over at short. The Braves turned Heyward into Shelby Miller, then Miller into three really good young players (Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair). Simmons fetched a top 20 pitching prospect (Sean Newcomb), another very good pitching prospect (Chris Ellis), and a tradeable veteran (Erick Aybar). Upton’s contract was dumped on the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade with actual prospects going back to Atlanta, and Johnson was sent to the Indians for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn in a trade that rearranged money to make things more favorable for both teams. (The Indians got a lower average annual value and the Braves now have the money coming off the books a year earlier than they would have.) And then Banuelos and Carpenter ended up being traded for each other anyway. I’m sure both the Yankees and Braves were disappointed they weren’t able to work out a trade last year. From the looks of it, both teams are better off with the way things worked out.

7. I’m (very) glad the Yankees walked way from this trade — I don’t mean that in a prospect hugging way, it’s just a lot of talent to give up for two impact players, one of whom was a year away from free agency — and I’m also glad to see they’re at least willing to discuss their top prospects in trades. Too many teams out there seem completely unwilling to even consider making their best prospects available. Young talent is important! It’s also fairly unpredictable and risky. I really like Judge and think he has a chance to be a +4 WAR outfielder down the road, but at the same time, I also recognize he might never get there because he’s so damn big and strikeouts will always be an issue. Banuelos hasn’t been the same since Tommy John surgery. Clarkin got hurt a few weeks after the blockbuster was discussed. I’m glad the Yankees are emphasizing young talent now. That’s what they need to do at this point. They’d also be smart to not make all their top prospects off-limits. There’s always a point where dealing a highly touted young player makes sense, and teams owe it to themselves to explore those opportunities. They’re often fleeting.

Yankees trade Manny Banuelos to Braves for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve

Last time for this photo. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Using this photo for the last time. Sad day. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

7:37pm: It’s a done deal, both teams have officially announced the trade. Banuelos for Carpenter and Shreve, as reported. So long, Manny.

5:38pm: After spending parts of seven seasons in the farm system, Manny Banuelos will not make his MLB debut with the Yankees. New York has traded the southpaw to the Braves for righty reliever David Carpenter and lefty reliever Chasen Shreve, according to Jack Curry. The 40-man roster is now full. Neither team has announced the trade yet.

The 23-year-old Banuelos was once the organization’s top prospect, but he missed most of 2012 and all of 2013 with elbow injuries, including Tommy John surgery. He had a 4.11 ERA (4.66 FIP) in 76.2 innings at three minor league levels in 2014 as he worked his way back from elbow construction. Banuelos’ stock has definitely fallen the last few years, enough that the Yankees — who know more about him than anyone — would rather have two relievers.

Carpenter, 29, had a 3.54 ERA (2.94 FIP) with excellent strikeout (9.89 K/9 and 25.9 K%) and walk (2.36 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%) rates in 61 innings this past season. His ground ball rate (37.6%) isn’t anything special and hasn’t been his entire career. Carpenter was better in 2013 (1.78 ERA) despite nearly identical peripherals (2.83 FIP). He’s a classic mid-90s fastball/mid-80s slider guy.

As Joel Sherman notes, Carpenter received a strong recommendation from Brian McCann, who was his catcher with the Braves in 2013. Hopefully Carpenter flat out dominates with New York and makes a name for himself, because right now his most memorable moment as a big leaguer ain’t so memorable for the Braves:

(Note: I embedded the video only because I love Juan Uribe. One of my favorite players in MLB. I’m not trying to dump on Carpenter.)

The 24-year-old Shreve was drafted in 2010 and has been a pure reliever throughout his career. He reached MLB for the first time in 2014, allowing one run (0.73 ERA) with 15 strikeouts and three walks (1.43 FIP) in 12.1 innings. Shreve was effective against both lefties (.714 OPS and 2.61 FIP) and righties (.680 OPS and 2.98 FIP) in the minors the last four years, so he might not necessarily be a specialist. He’s a low-90s fastball/low-80s slider guy.

Shreve. (Presswire)
Shreve. (Presswire)

Carpenter is out of minor league options, so he’ll stick with the big league team and presumably step into Shawn Kelley’s old setup role. MLBTR projects him to earn $1.1M through arbitration in 2015. Shreve has two options remaining and will join Justin Wilson and Jacob Lindgren as lefty bullpen options behind Andrew Miller. Carpenter and Shreve have three and six years of team control left, respectively. Banuelos has one option year and six years of team control remaining.

In a nutshell, the Yankees prefer Carpenter and Shreve to Kelley and Banuelos, with Johnny Barbato serving as a wildcard. At this point only Carpenter, Miller, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren are locks for the 2015 bullpen, though I think both Wilson and Esmil Rogers have a leg up o a bullpen job as well. Shreve, Lindgren, Jose Ramirez, Branden Pinder, Danny Burawa, Gonzalez Germen, Jose DePaula, Bryan Mitchell, and Chase Whitley are other candidates. That’s a lot of arms.

In the grand scheme of things, the Yankees added a setup reliever and replaced one potential up-and-down lefty with another. I’m bummed Banuelos is gone but that’s the way it goes. Pitching prospects will break your heart. Obviously the Yankees felt they were better off using Banuelos as a chip to improve the bullpen now rather than holding onto him and hoping for a rebound next year before he has to stick in MLB for good in 2016. Bottom line, the Yankees clearly believe Banuelos is no longer the guy he was from 2008-12, before the injuries.

Manny Banuelos’ arrival on tap for 2015, finally

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

We’ve been talking about left-hander Manny Banuelos here at RAB so long that it’s easy to forget he’s still only 23 years old. He’s younger than both 2014 Rookies of the Year and everyone who finished in the top five of the voting in each league as well. Yet because we’ve been talking about him since he was an 18-year-old pitching in High Class-A, it feels like Banuelos is much older than he really is.

These last few years have obviously been tough for Banuelos, who’s battled injury and ineffectiveness, occasionally at the same time. He had a 4.50 ERA (3.79 FIP) in six starts with Triple-A Scranton in 2012 before suffering a bone bruise in his elbow, then he torn his UCL during the rehab and needed Tommy John surgery. Banuelos did not pitch in an official minor league game from May 18th, 2012 until April 3rd, 2014 because of the elbow issues.

In his return from close to two lost seasons this year, Banuelos pitched to a 4.11 ERA (4.66 FIP) in 76.2 innings while climbing from High-A to Double-A and finally back to Triple-A. His workload was very closely monitored — he didn’t complete five full innings until late-July, in his 19th outing of the season — and a well-timed blister gave him a nice little two-week breather in late-June. Banuelos stayed healthy all summer and that was the big goal in 2014.

“He was able to achieve the objective to build innings and increase the workload. He was on a plan designed by (pitching coordinator) Gil Patterson and monitored by our medical people. He then made four more starts in the Instructional League to go a little longer,” said assistant GM Billy Eppler to George King (subs. req’d). “Everybody walked away feeling good. He is still in the stage of where you have to watch him but he will be ready to roll in Spring Training. He will come in and compete for a job. The velocity was there and he developed a cutter as well.”

Now that he’s shaken off the rust after missing close to two full seasons, the objective for Banuelos goes from staying healthy all year to contributing at the MLB level. Finally. We all thought he would come up in 2012 and help out in some capacity, but the injuries threw a big wrench into that. Rotation, bullpen, whatever. Banuelos’ exact role will be determined by the team’s need at that time. The Yankees at least kicked around the idea of bringing him up relief this season, so we know they’re willing to do that.

In Justin Wilson and Jose DePaula, the Yankees added two left-handers a week or two ago who figure to be ahead of Banuelos on the depth chart. At least Wilson will be. I’m not sure about DePaula yet. Those two give the team the ability to be patient with Banuelos if they don’t think he’s ready. That said, everything is lined up for 2015 to be the year Banuelos finally breaks through and arrives in the big leagues. Will he be an impact pitcher right away? Maybe! But even if he isn’t, just reaching the show is the next step in his development. Banuelos has dealt with injury and rehab for the better part of three years now. Next year will be his chance to reclaim his top prospect glory and help the Yankees.

Injury Updates: Pineda, Nova, Beltran, Banuelos

Allergic reaction to Gatorade, 60-day DL. (Presswire)
Allergic reaction to Gatorade, 60-day DL. (Presswire)

Mark Teixeira is back in the lineup tonight after leaving yesterday’s game because he took a pitch to the left foot. The Yankees dodged a bullet there. Here are some injury updates to pass along, courtesy of Dan Martin, Jorge Castillo, Marly Rivera, and Nick Peruffo:

  • Michael Pineda (shoulder) is fully expected to begin a throwing program this coming weekend, according to Joe Girardi. They are “pretty confident” the extra week of rest will knock out the lingering “trace” of inflammation. “Our doctors felt (another MRI) won’t be necessary. It’s a fairly minor amount of inflammation in there compared to what it was. Another week should be plenty sufficient,” said the skipper.
  • Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) is running and lifting light weights, but he won’t start throwing until late-August or September. That’s normal, his rehab is right on schedule so far. “I got to go outside and run a little bit,” he said. “I’m still two months away (from throwing). I still have a ways to go.”
  • Carlos Beltran (elbow) is currently throwing from 120 feet with no significant discomfort. He was expected to begin throwing to the bases over the weekend, and if that went well, they would come up with a plan and a firm timetable to get him back into right field.
  • Manny Banuelos (blisters) has been placed on the Double-A Trenton DL. He had some blister issues several years back. Banuelos missed most of 2012-13 with elbow problems, including Tommy John surgery.

Manny Banuelos to pitch for Double-A Trenton tomorrow

LHP Manny Banuelos is scheduled to pitch for Double-A Trenton tomorrow afternoon, according to Matt Kardos. He has been out a week or so with arm fatigue. After missing close to two full seasons and having Tommy John surgery, a little dead arm phase isn’t the most surprising thing in the world. I’m not sure if Banuelos will start or come out of the bullpen, but he’s been working short three and four-inning outings this year either way. Chances are they will take is slow his next few times out.

Manny Banuelos plays catch, will start in five days

Left-hander Manny Banuelos played catch today and had no problem with his sore/fatigued arm, according to Matt Kardos. He will start in five days and be held to either two innings or 35 pitches. Good news, obviously. Seems like Banuelos just ran into a little bit of a dead arm after missing close to two full years following a pair of elbow injuries, including Tommy John surgery.

Banuelos scratched from Double-A start with sore arm, DL possible

6:02pm: Banuelos told Peruffo it is more fatigue than soreness, which is good. Fits the idea of this stemming from not pitching for almost two years. He will rest for three days before playing catch.

6:00pm: LHP Manny Banuelos has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start for Double-A Trenton, according to Nick Peruffo. Banuelos has soreness in his arm, though it’s unclear if it involves his surgically rebuilt elbow. A trip to the disabled list is possible and Matt Kardos says he will be evaluated in a few days.

Banuelos, 23, has a 4.03 ERA (~3.27 FIP) in 22.1 closely monitored innings split between High-A and Double-A this season as he returns from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are obviously going to be very careful with the southpaw, so I would guess he winds up on the DL. Hopefully this is just normal soreness following surgery and not pitching for nearly two years.