The Bronx Bombers traded their top pitching prospect, Justus Sheffield, to the Seattle Mariners for southpaw starter James Paxton.
The young Yankees, led by rookie manager Aaron Boone, won 100 games last season. The Yankees finished in second place in the AL East behind the 108-win Boston Red Sox. The Yankees beat out the Oakland A’s in the AL Wild Card, but they were eliminated by the Red Sox in the AL Divisional Series.
According to the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, the Yankees are currently 13-2 favorites to win the 2019 World Series.
Welcome to the Boogie Down, Mr. Paxton
The fastball-loving James Paxton struck out 208 hitters last season. He also tossed a no hitter last May. Overall, the 6-foot-4 lefty went 11-6 and threw 160.1 innings with a 3.76 ERA for the Mariners last season. Paxton had a 32.3 percent strikeout rate, plus 6.5 percent walk rate.
Over his five-year career, Paxton has a record of 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA.
Paxton never threw more than 175 innings in a season, so his durability is a big question mark. That was the one gamble the Yankees were willing to take. Paxton provides the Yankees with left-handed pitcher who will bring the heat and throw strikes. The Yankees have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball, but furthermore, the addition of Paxton strengthens their rotation that had two openings.
With veteran lefty CC Sabathia re-signing a one deal with the Yankees, the team currently has a starting rotation with the likes of righties Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. GM Brian Cashman is gambling that Paxton will be one of the new players that help the Yankees win the World Series next year.
The Big Maple
Paxton grew up in Vancouver, Canada and he played college baseball at Kentucky. Expect to see a slew of “Big Maple is headed to the Big Apple” headlines across newspapers and the internet.
“I’m just honored to get a chance to be a Yankee,” Paxton said moments after being traded. “And be a part of the great history and commitment to winning there. I couldn’t be more excited about it. 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.”
Paxton joins the Baby Bombers and a young team that’s loaded with big bats like Aaron Judge and rookie talent like Miguel Andujar and Gleber Torres.
The Yankees shipped out their top pitching prospect, lefty Justus Sheffield. The 22-year old Sheffield pitched remarkably well in AA and AAA this past season with a 2.48 ERA and 25.9 percent strikeout rate. He didn’t do so hot during a September call up, but his short stint with the Yankees did not affect his trade stock.
The Mariners also acquired prospects Dom Thompson-Williams and Erik Swanson.
Erik Swanson, 25, joined the Yankees through the Carlos Beltran trade and the pitcher is considered a Top 25 prospect in the organization. At AAA this season, Swanson tossed 121.1 innings with an impressive 2.66 ERA.
Dom Thompson-Williams, 23, was the Yankees fifth round pick from the 2016 draft. Thompson-Williams missed hitting .300 by a single point this season. He led his single-A conference with 22 homeruns.
Re-Imagine in Seattle
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto set the trade in motion a couple of weeks earlier when he dealt Mike Zunino to the Rays. Dipoto said he wanted to “re-imagine the roster”, which is a fancy buzz word for rebuilding.
With rebuilding as the new plan in Seattle, the Yankees knew that James Paxton was in play. Cashman called Dipoto and the two hammered out a deal. Dipoto acquired three solid prospects including the Yankees top arm in Sheffield.
The glory days of the Seattle Ms of yesterday are gone. The Re-Imagine Phase in Seattle is underway.