Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has had a busy week, signing CC Sabathia to a contract extension and inking a three-year deal of his own to stay in New York.
Today he held court with the media and indicated pretty strongly that the Yankees won’t be pursuing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder as free agents because they’re still focusing on adding more pitching even after locking up Sabathia long term:
Offense is not a problem with this club. Our main focus and effort is going to be try to reinforce the pitching rotation and bullpen and depth and insurance policies we would have. It is pitching, pitching, pitching. That will be the main thrust of this stuff.
This morning there was a report about the Yankees being interested in re-signing Freddy Garcia, but C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle also figure to be on their radar. Yu Darvish could be too, although Cashman hinted that Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa might make him a little more hesitant than most teams to pursue the highly touted Japanese ace.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.