The Yankees have been in the mix to acquire Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ for weeks now and even emerged as a reported frontrunner earlier this month. Happ is still one of the Yankees’ most coveted potential targets, but Fancred‘s Jon Heyman reports New York is finding the Blue Jays’ asking price to be high. Despite being named a 2018 all-star, Happ’s trade value has understandably taken a hit of late. He has struggled in his previous two outings and has seen his ERA climb from 3.62 to 4.44 since June 25. The pending free agent surrendered six runs and an alarming six walks in Saturday’s loss to the Yankees — hardly a flattering audition. Even with the recent woes, Happ still boasts a strong 9.8 K/9 rate for the season and is one of the top arms that could realistically be traded before July 31.
Gauging the value of stars on the trade block makes for popular sport among MLBTR readers. Quite often, we’re asked whether a given player could command, say, a “top 100 pitching prospect.” Now, we seem to have a clear test case, as the Orioles are reportedly trying to land just such a player — a top-end pitching prospect, that is — in talks involving star infielder Manny Machado. It’s nothing new to suggest that the Baltimore organization would like to convert Machado into a talented young hurler, of course. The reported aim over the winter was to get two such arms in exchange for a single season of Machado. When that failed to materialize, the O’s instead held him in hopes of contending. Now, as the team pursues its fallback plan of a mid-season sell-off, it has continued to try to pry loose pitching talent as the headlining element of a return for Machado. The most recent reports indicate that the O’s are still shooting for the moon. With several weeks left until the trade deadline, of course, that’s arguably just what they ought to be doing. Still, the odds seem long that the club’s most optimistic wishes will be fulfilled. Baltimore will no doubt drive a particularly hard bargain with the Yankees, who stand as recent entrants to the Machado derby. The Orioles are willing to deal their best player to their division rivals, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter), but only if they score pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. He’s an unsurprising target, but that appears to be rather a steep ask given the 22-year-old’s pedigree and performance this year. The southpaw entered the year rated as one of the game’s fifty or so best prospects and has mowed down hitters at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels, turning in 85 innings of 2.44 ERA ball with 10.1 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9. Given the Yanks’ slate of needs, both now and in the near future, sending Sheffield out for Machado wouldn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Morosi does add on Twitterthat the club’s “need for Machado increases greatly if they trade Miguel Andujar for a controllable pitcher,” but that concept seems to fold in quite a notable bit of speculation — namely, that the team is considering parting with the talented Andujar, who is already a useful (albeit still-raw) MLB player. Perhaps there are some low-likelihood scenarios where Yankees GM Brian Cashman manages such a multi-part balancing act, but that doesn’t make the concept of Sheffield-for-Machado any more facially reasonable as a value proposition. Baltimore is also trying to secure a top young arm from the Indians, Morosi also tweets. The ask, in that case, is for either Triston McKenzie or Shane Bieber. Neither pitcher figures to be parted with lightly, particularly for a rental piece.