The Mariners are taking a flier on some guy named Tommy La Stella, and that’s the big headline around Mariners-land. But, buried way at the bottom is a quick hit about how Justus Sheffield was DFA’d to make room.
I dunno, maybe Sheffield is a non-story at this point. Maybe the Mariners get him back on a minor league deal and he stays in the organization. But, I think it’s pretty significant news! This is a guy who was a first round draft pick. He was traded to the Yankees as a prospect and flew up the rankings. He was subsequently traded by the Yankees to the Mariners in the James Paxton deal and while the bloom was off the rose a little bit, he was still considered to be a top-shelf rotation guy. Maybe no longer an ace, but certainly a #2 or #3, with potential to still be an ace one day, should things break the right way.
Instead, he’s just been kind of this colossal disappointment. Not much velocity, no real out pitch (his slider is probably his best weapon, but that’s not saying much), not really any good command, EXTREMELY hittable. He hung around in the upper levels in the org for a couple years until he finally caught his big break in the COVID season of 2020, when he started 10 times and had decent numbers. But, even that seemed kind of flimsy, which was proven accurate when he cratered in 2021 and lost his status as a starter. The move to the bullpen didn’t come with any sort of uptick in velo or anything else useful at either the Major League or AAA levels. He came into 2022 as a long reliever in the majors and a starter in Tacoma, but couldn’t do anything well at either level. Thankfully for the Mariners, our rotation stayed remarkably healthy last year, so there was no need to try to shoe-horn him in there.
And now, presumably, he’s somebody else’s problem.
Sheffield was a tough guy to root for, because he didn’t do anything particularly well. He seemed slow on the mound, he threw like a power pitcher but without a power pitcher’s stuff, and once teams realized all he had was a slider, all they had to do was lay off it until he got it higher in the zone, at which point they were free to tee off.
Just another in a long line of disaster trades for this organization.
Anyway, he won’t be missed. And this Tommy La Stella guy doesn’t seem like he’ll be anyone worth missing either. Per that Lookout Landing link, he was pretty great in 2019, and has been dealing with injuries ever since. He’s a tough guy to strike out, but other than that doesn’t have power or play any defense other than first base. You’re not really platooning him with France – even though he bats lefty – so he’s really just a bench bat who might aspire to be a DH once a week. I’m not really expecting him to make the team.