On the morning of July 31st, 2016, I don’t think anyone thought that the Yankees would be facing the Indians in the 2017 American League Division Series in just 15 months. Certainly not Brian Cashman, who dealt arguably the best relief pitcher in the game, Andrew Miller, to the Cleveland Indians for highly touted prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield.
At the time, most fans were in agreement with Cashman that the team wasn’t able to compete for a championship for the time being, and that dealing star veterans for top prospects was in the best long term interest of the franchise. Almost a year after the trade was made, I believe that Brian Cashman would not make this trade if given a second chance.
I know what most people are thinking. “Clint Frazier is a stud prospect!” “Justus Sheffield is going to be an ace!” Sure, there’s some merit there. Frazier has had flashes of the “legendary bat speed” that Cashman referenced upon trading for him, and Sheffield seems to have the physical and mental tools to be a very effective starter one day. However, neither of them did much in 2017 to help the Yankees win a title, and neither are likely to provide any sort of serious production to a 2018 title run. (Frazier may very well play for a few weeks in the Majors this year, but I am speaking more towards the stretch run and postseason.)
It’s not Frazier’s fault that the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, but the fact of the matter is that there is no room for Frazier on this 2018 roster unless multiple outfielders miss extended time (which is definitely a possibility and is already happening.) Sheffield was never expected to be ready for the Big Leagues this season, which isn’t a bad thing for him, but he provides no Major League value this year.
One of the most common incorrect statements I hear a lot of fans make is that “the Yankees best chance for a championship will be in 2019 or 2020.” This could not be more wrong. The Yankees best chance to win a championship is RIGHT NOW. They have three legitimate homegrown all-stars all making around 500 grand a year (Judge, Sanchez and Severino.) They have four starting pitchers who have all gotten serious CY Young consideration. They have a lockdown bullpen that features the hardest throwing pitcher in the game. Forget Bryce Harper and forget Manny Machado for a second. The Yankees have three of their best players making peanuts, which gives the team the flexibility to build around them in the short term. (The Eagles and Rams are executing this plan around cheap high level Quarterback production in the NFL.)
In my opinion, Miller is the best reliever in the game today. He won the 2015 Mariano Rivera Award with the Yankees, given to the best relief pitcher in the American League. He then dominated in 2016, helping the Indians reach the World Series by pitching lights out deep into the postseason. The Yankees have a strong bullpen, but they still blew over 20 saves in 2017. The one thing they are missing is a lockdown lefty middle reliever, which Miller would have been absolutely perfect for. The Yankees finished two games behind Boston last year, and I believe with Miller they would have won at least two extra games and the division crown.
I think Clint Frazier will be an above average outfielder, and I think Sheffield will be a very good number two starter in the Majors. They have the potential to help the Yankees in the future.
Andrew Miller is the best relief pitcher in the Majors. He would definitely be helping the team win now.
Sometimes after a blown save, or a Betances meltdown, I wish he still was.