No general manager in the sport has hoarded prospects in recent memory than Brian Cashman. The thing that separated the Red Sox from the Yankees in the postseason was starting pitching. Brian Cashman finally became a big boy today and put his nuts on the table trading for a front-line starting pitcher, James Paxton. The Big Maple is headed to New York for three prospects including Justus Sheffield.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the news:
Source: James Paxton has been traded to the New York Yankees.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 19, 2018
Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson, and Dom Thompson-Williams will head to Seattle. Sheffield ranks 1st among Yankees prospects while Swanson ranks 22. Thompson-Williams is unranked. It’s been reported that the Yankees love Sheffield but have grown frustrated with his command. Sheffield, 22, turned in a 2.48 ERA in AA and AAA last year. I’m not sure where the command comes into play here because Sheffield averaged 3.4 walks per 9 innings. That isn’t an alarming number considering he is a young pitcher. Sheffield was the main piece in the Andrew Miller trade and has been highly regarded since being drafted in the first round back in 2015 by the Indians.
Swanson needed to be added to the 40 man roster and is considered a swingman of sorts. Swanson, 25, spent this past year in AAA and threw a 3.86 ERA across 72.1 innings. For Seattle, it seems like a fair return if Sheffield pans out. Getting 6 years of control for a guy with nasty stuff (fastball in the upper 90’s) seems like a fair price. It’s pretty clear that the Mariners rebuild starts now.
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. That’s what the Yankees are after. This is a high risk, high reward deal for New York. Paxton immediately jumps to the top of the Yanks rotation. There are really two ways of looking at this. The first is that the Yankees just added one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball for one notable prospect. The other is that the Yankees gave up a very good pitching prospect, who is major league ready right now, for a pitcher who turned 30 and never is healthy.
Paxton has never pitched more than 161.1 innings in a season. That’s over 6 major league seasons. Paxton comes with two years of control where he is projected to earn $9 million this season. Paxton struck out over 11 men per 9 the past two years. That’s unreal. He gets a swing and miss on 15.4 percent of the time on his fastball. That ranks 4th in baseball. This deal will come down to durability. From April to early June, Paxton posted an ERA of 1.75 in 56 innings. He then faded hard down the stretch finishing with an ERA of 3.76 largely due to health. That’s going to define this deal because nothing matters until October. For every Yankee hater out there, let’s hope he turns into the Canadian Carl Pavano but I have to admit… this was a smart move.
New York likely isn’t done on the pitching front. Patrick Corbin is high on the radar list along with JA Happ. A trade for Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco also is in play. The Yankees have been busy having already re-signed CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner. Now it’s your move, Dave Dombrowski. How will the Red Sox counter the Paxton trade?