Manny Machado trade rumors: Why Justus Sheffield is so valuable Yankees reportedly won't deal him
Sheffield was part of the Andrew Miller trade that also netted New York Clint Frazier
With baseball's trade deadline about two weeks away, rumors are becoming more frequent and more detailed.
To wit, a number of reports this week have noted the Baltimore Orioles are interested in acquiring New York Yankees pitching prospect Justus Sheffield in a potential Manny Machado trade. The Yankees to this point are believed to have not made Sheffield available -- and may not make him available at any point:
Who is Sheffield, and why are teams so interested in his services?
A 22-year-old lefty, Sheffield was originally a first-round pick by the Cleveland Indians. He was traded to the Yankees in 2016 as part of the Andrew Miller deal. He's split this season between Double-A and Triple-A, compiling a 2.44 ERA in 85 innings while striking out more than 10 batters per nine. Wildness, particularly in Double-A, has limited him to a 2.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Nonetheless, he's blossomed into a top prospect among Yankees farmhands and left-handed pitchers overall.
From a scouting perspective, Sheffield profiles as a potential mid-rotation starter -- and perhaps a bit more if he can iron out his wrinkles. His arsenal has the chance to feature three above-average pitches, including a lively mid-90s fastball. (MLB.com's scouting report gives both his fastball and slider plus grades while placing a 55, or above average, on his changeup.) In theory, he could debut in the majors later this season, making him extra appealing to the Orioles (and Yankees, for that matter).
There is some downside with Sheffield, however, beginning with his frame, as he's listed at 6-foot even. Combined with his past durability woes (he missed a couple months last season due to a strained oblique), his height is part of the reason some think he could end up in the bullpen. Baseball Prospectus released its midseason top-50 list on Friday, with Sheffield checking in at No. 40. BP noted that his command could also lead him to a future in relief.
Every prospect, indeed ever player, carries some risk. The upside is often what matters most. In Sheffield's case, the upside is why the Orioles will continue to ask for his inclusion in a deal.
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