Breaking: Yankees Acquire LHP James Paxton from Mariners

Brian Cashman is at it again.

The Yankees made their first major move of the offseason on Monday night by trading for Seattle Mariners lefty James Paxton in exchange for a three-player package, according to multiple reports.

The headliner in the return trade is top prospect LHP Justus Sheffield. The Yankees also gave up RHP Erik Swanson and outfield prospect Dom-Thompson-Williams, a person that I had never heard of before this trade.

Losing Sheffield is unfortunate, but this is a no-brainer move by the Yankees brass. Sheffield, although he still has plenty of potential, was not impressive in his very brief stint in pinstripes last year. It sounds like many feel that his long-term fit would be as a number 3 starter, and Paxton is more than that right now.

Control seems to be an issue with Sheffield and the Yankees couldn’t afford to trust him in the rotation for 2019. I think Sheffield has done all he can in the minors and now needs to be in the big leagues in order to improve. The now-rebuilding Mariners can let him work it out in the big leagues. It seems that Sheffield and the Yanks were on divergent paths, whether we like it or not. C'est la vie.

For what it is worth, Swanson was a fringe-40-man-roster guy who the Yankees had to make a decision on by Tuesday’s deadline, before they risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. The Yankees essentially open up another 40-man spot in the trade.

Paxton is 30 years old and has two years of arbitration left before reaching free agency, and he is a big-time pitcher.

In 2018, Paxton tossed 160.1 innings of 3.76 ERA baseball, which I suppose doesn’t look as good as he was a year ago. In 2017 he was even better, albeit in fewer innings.

Health has been the major concern with Paxton, as his 160.1 IP in 2018 were a career-high. Here is the list of his injuries that I am stealing directly from River Ave. Blues:

  • 2014: Missed four months with a lat strain.
  • 2015: Missed close to four months with a strained tendon in his left middle finger.
  • 2016: Missed two weeks after taking a line drive to the pitching elbow.
  • 2017: Missed a month with a forearm strain and another month with a strained pectoral.
  • 2018: Missed three weeks with back inflammation and two weeks after taking a line drive to his left forearm.

It’s not nearly as bad as his reputation would have you believe. It’s a lot of issues that I would not expect to be lingering problems. Paxton does have the forearm injury from 2017, which is often seen as a precursor to Tommy John surgery, but the Yankees must feel confident in it now.

Overall, there’s not anything to really dislike about this trade, unless Justus Sheffield was your favorite prospect of all time, for some reason. The Yankees can’t afford to prospect-hug and Paxton is legit. The Yankees are likely still going to acquire one more front-end arm to solidify the rotation, which now looks something like this:

  1. Luis Severino
  2. Masahiro Tanaka
  3. James Paxton
  4. [Blank]
  5. CC Sabathia

Jordan Montgomery will also be returning from Tommy John sometime in the middle of the season, lest we forget!

I imagine Plan A for that rotation vacancy remains to be Patrick Corbin. Plan B is likely JA Happ. Signing both of them feels unlikely.

I suppose there is still a chance that they make a trade for Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco in Cleveland, but I would guess that that became a much more unlikely match now. I assume the asking price is, rightfully, far too high after the Yankees already made this trade. Free agency seems to be the path here.

I’m excited about this move. Let me know what you think by tweeting at me.

 

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