Justus Sheffield may develop into an above-average starting pitcher, but the Yankees can’t afford to let him stand in the way of trading for Manny Machado.
As the trade deadline approaches, whispers of the Yankees interest in Orioles star Manny Machado continue to get louder and louder. If Brian Cashman is going to bring the All-Star infielder to the Bronx, he’s going to need to give up something of real value.
To date, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees are interested in making much of a sacrifice. Recent reports claim that top prospect Justus Sheffield is a sticking point in negotiations between the two teams. The talented left-hander is one of the team’s top prospects, and he’s the starting pitcher closest to making an impact at the major league level. Even so, moving him for Machado should be an acceptable deal for the Yankees.
The harsh truth is that if Sheffield were ready to pitch in the majors, he’d certainly be in Aaron Boone’s rotation by now. The struggles of Sonny Gray are well documented. The Yankees would happily replace him if they thought an internal candidate had a reasonable chance to succeed.
Some Yankee fans believe the team is just being patient with Sheffield. There’s certainly some validity to that line of thinking. However, he’s already pitching effectively at the AAA level. He started the season slowly, but he’s been lights out as of late. Based purely on results, he should already have received his call up.
Obviously, something else is preventing the Yankees brass from bringing Sheffield to the majors. It might be an issue of command, mental strength, or any number of other things. The point is something is amiss. Whatever it is, it should lower Sheffield’s internal value to the organization.
Other Yankee fans insist that Cashman should only make a seismic move for an elite starting pitcher. As of this moment, that sort of arm isn’t on the market for anything resembling a reasonable price. Cashman can’t simply bury his head in the sand regarding other options in the hopes that an ace will magically hit the market.
Instead, it’s his responsibility to evaluate any possibility to upgrade Boone’s roster. Adding Machado to the lineup might be strengthening a strength, but that can be just as valuable as improving a weakness.
In the end, Cashman’s position regarding Sheffield will likely change as the deadline gets closer and closer. He may be drawing a hard-line on the promising lefty to start negotiations with the Orioles, but don’t be surprised if he relents to get a seismic deal done.