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Reds Sign Justus Sheffield to Minor League Deal

The Reds have signed a lefty Justus Sheffield to a minor league deal, according to his trade tracker on He is assigned to the Complex League at the moment but will probably move up to the top team after getting into match condition.

Sheffield, 28, will be looking to return to the top flight after disappointing results in recent years, although he was once thought to be the future boss of the big clubs. Cleveland selected him 31st overall in the 2014 draft and the lefty was used twice as a notable part of a significant trade. He was sent to the Yankees as part of a 2016 trade deadline deal Andrew Miller otherwise, he was traded to the Mariners after 2018 as part of a trade deal James Paxton in the Bronx.

He was clearly a hot commodity at the time, judging by those draft picks and his placement in those trades. Baseball America ranked him as one of the top 100 prospects for four straight seasons from 2016 to 2019, ranking him as high as #27 at the end of those years. That was based on a very strong 2018 campaign, in which Sheffield threw 116 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with a 2.48 earned run average, a 25.9% strikeout rate and a . 10.5%. He also made a brief major league debut with the Yanks, aged just 22, before going to Seattle in the aforementioned Paxton trade.

But his time in Seattle didn't see him live up to his big hype. He often struggled with the Mariners until he struggled with their Triple-A team in the friendly Pacific Coast League. He currently sports a 5.47 ERA in 186 major league innings, spanning 2018 to 2022. He got ground balls on 49.5% of the balls in play during that time but his 18.2% strikeout rate and 10.6% walk rate were both low.

He also threw 244 1/3 minor league innings from 2019 to 2022 but had a 5.49 ERA during that time, and had uninspiring peripherals. He struck out 21.2% of batters who advanced while giving up free passes 10.3% of the time.

The Mariners tried to move him to the bullpen, making him ten relief appearances in Triple-A to start 2023, but his struggles continued and he was released in late April. He got a minor league deal with Atlanta and that team allowed him to return to pitching, but he couldn't turn things around by changing positions. He finished the year with a 7.63 ERA in 63 2/3 frames between the two organizations. He struck out just 19.9% ​​of the batters he faced while issuing walks at a 15.2% clip.

He returned to free agency at the end of the season and stayed there until this deal. For the Reds, there is little harm in signing the deal and keeping a close eye on Sheffield. Despite many trials and tribulations, he is still almost two years away from his 30th birthday, giving him plenty of time to make a second act.

If the Reds plan to stretch him as a starter, it will likely take him a few weeks to build up his numbers. They have question marks in their rotation, like Graham Ashcraft it has recently been chosen for children after negative results as well Brandon Williamson his rehab was shut down due to discomfort in his throwing shoulder.

For now, Cincinnati's rotation includes Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Andrew Abbott again Frankie Montasand the same boys Nick Martinez, Carson Spiers, Connor Phillips, Lyon Richardson again Christian Roa who will replace Ashcraft. In the long run, Montas is an upcoming free agent while Martinez has opted out at the end of the year, meaning depth could be thinned down the road. Although on the other hand, hope likes Rhett Lowder again Chase Petty they are currently in Double-A and will move up to the mix eventually.

Sheffield has less than three years of service and one year remaining. If he can get his performance back from his fantasy days and earn a roster spot, he could provide the club with rotation depth and the potential for long-term leverage if things go particularly well.

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