According to SI.com, New York will receive three good-looking pitching prospects for Gary Sheffield, who will have his contract extended for two additional seasons beyond his remaining one year, $13 million deal.
A deal like this would have wiped the Phillies system completely dry of pitching, so it is something of a relief to see Sheffield ticketed for pitching-deep Detroit. Plus, the extension is reportedly through 2009, at which point Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will be owed millions in arbitration.
Both the Yankees and Tigers benefit, but an extra hat tip goes to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who has now upgraded his organizational pitching depth in a significant way, while replacing Sheffield with the younger Bobby Abreu. Granted, Cashman had the maximum leverage of Abreu’s no-trade, coupled with the Phillies urgency to deal him by the deadline. Without it, none of this unfolds the way it did for the Yankees.
Sanchez is a bonefide stud prospect, one of the best looking power hurlers in the minors. He went 10-6 with a 2.63 ERA between Class AA and AAA. Class A pitchers Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett round out the trade, according to a Tigers source. Both are former collegian pitchers, and both appear to be high-caliber.
But Sanchez is the key. Along with Philip Hughes, rated as the best right-hander in the minors by Baseball America, the Yanks are positioning for a mini youth movement in their starting rotation. This is absolutely, positively their best strategy.
So what does this mean for our Phillies? Obviously, Sheffield has been taken out of play. It’s bound to draw parallels to the Pat Burrell situation, but I would remind readers that Sheffield’s circumstances, contract, etc. are very different. Burrell, who is protected by a no-trade clause, has reportedly agreed to be moved to only three teams, and all three have shown no interest. The Yankees, on the other hand, had the ability to do what was in their own best interest.
Still, this deal illustrates – to some surprise – that good teams are willing to deal young pitching for somewhat dubious veteran power.