Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Yankees of the late 1990’s didn’t have many failures, the Hideki Irabu experiment clearly falls into that category. He had three awful years in New York before getting traded to the Montreal Expos. But if the Yankees hadn’t traded for Irabu in 1997, they wouldn’t have drafted Aaron Judge in 2013.

It seems nuts, we concede. How can a trade in 1997 make an impact on a draft 16 years later, well after any of the traded parties were out of the league? It seems nuts, but it’s not. Follow along.

As bad as Irabu was, we’re pretty sure that the Yankees would do this all over again, knowing what they know now. It helps that even with Irabu, they won the World Series in 1998 and 1999 (and again in 2000, for good measure). But even without that, New York is certainly happy with having Judge around.

And really, these are the kind of things that all fans need to keep in mind. If you cheer for a team that had a much hyped player flop, take this as a reason to be optimistic. It may take the better part of two decades, but that flop could turn into a franchise cornerstone.

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This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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