Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
The New York Yankees want Manny Machado—just so long as it doesn’t cost them Justus Sheffield.
Jim Bowden of The Athletic reported the Baltimore Orioles have been informed Sheffield, the top pitching prospect in the Yankees system, is off limits in any trade talks.
Machado, 26, is on the trade block as the Orioles attempt to recoup prospects before the star shortstop hits free agency this winter. He and Bryce Harper are set to headline the free-agent class and are unique because they’re hitting the open market during the true prime of their careers.
Sheffield, 22, is a flame-throwing lefty who has dominated at every level of the minor leagues. He’s split the 2018 season between Double-A and Triple-A, recording a 4-5 record with a 2.44 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while striking out 95 batters in 85 innings.
The Yankees have some holes to fill in their own starting rotation and could consider Sheffield for a midseason call-up. Adding him to Machado talks would continue an all-in push for a World Series built around burgeoning stars in their prime. The Yankees’ reloaded farm system helped them land Giancarlo Stanton in a trade this offseason and produced stars like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Luis Severino.
Putting Machado in a lineup that already includes Judge, Stanton and Torres would give the Yankees perhaps the greatest middle order in modern baseball history. Should they trade and re-sign Machado, they would have a group of four players no older than 28 locked up for the foreseeable future.
But pitching is a real issue. The Yankees are still trotting out Sonny Gray and Domingo German. They’re also scarily reliant on an aging CC Sabathia and crossing their fingers that Masahiro Tanaka’s luck increases as the season goes along.
Considering they already have perhaps the best lineup in baseball, Machado may be a luxury too rich to afford if it includes Sheffield.