In what is expected to be the first of a number of big off-season signings for New York, the Yankees acquired James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners on Monday, November 19.
ESPN reports that in the interest of pooling young talent to focus a rebuild around, Seattle was willing to part with Paxton if they could get a package featuring some of the game’s up and coming names. The Yanks apparently saw some serious value in the left-handed power pitcher, as they agreed to up three of the organization’s top prospects in exchange. Included in the trade was lefty Justus Sheffield, who was the most coveted piece in New York’s farm system, and one that general manager Brian Cashman refused to let go of in their mid-season bid to try and pry Manny Machado away from the Baltimore Orioles.
After doing his part to help the Los Angeles Dodgers return to the World Series, Machado is back on the market, as is Bryce Harper and a number of other elite position players. However, the prevailing speculation among analysts is that the Paxton deal signifies New York’s intention to make starting pitching the priority considering Sonny Gray has been a bust, C.C. Sabathia is bound to tip over the hill completely, and J.A. Happ is a free agent again.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) November 19, 2018
In fact, shortly after the Paxton trade was announced, MLB Network‘s Jon Morosi reported on sources who informed him that moving forward the first order of business in the Bronx will be to make an offer that will help them retain Happ. They will then attempt to position themselves to bring National League Cy Young award candidate Patrick Corbin on board. Thus, should Cashman and the Steinbrenners maneuver successfully, they could be heading into the 2019 season with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Paxton, Happ, Corbin, and Sabathia competing for spots in the starting rotation, according to CBS Sports.
While his six trips to the disabled list over the last five years does raise concerns about Paxton’s ability to stay healthy, he ought to do well with the run support he’ll be able to expect from the Yankees stout offense. The 30-year-old Canadian has amassed a record of 41-26 in his first six years in the majors and is coming off of a season that saw him go 11-6 through 28 starts – while maintaining a 3.76 ERA and striking out 208 batters.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it,” Paxton told the press after learning about the day’s developments. “It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity in New York, always expecting to win, the way I do. I’m looking forward to being a part of a fantastic team.”
Along with Sheffield, Seattle got minor league outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams and righty prospect Erik Swanson from the Yanks.