After weeks of rumors, the Yankees pounced on a top starting pitcher. According to Jeff Passan, the Bombers acquired James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners. In return, the M’s will receive top prospect Justus Sheffield, Dom Thompson-Williams, and Erik Swanson.
Paxton, 30, pitched to a 3.76 ERA (3.24 FIP) across 160.1 innings in 2018. The left-hander worked a solid season overall, but had an out of this world May. In six starts on the month, he worked to a 1.67 ERA (2.32 FIP). He notched a 16-strikeout game, threw a complete game, and tossed a no-hitter in the that span. While the Yankees will use him as a mid-rotation starter, the southpaw has big upside.
The question with Paxton, however, has always been his health. He’s pitched in parts of six seasons and set a career-high in innings with his 2018 campaign. His injury history runs long, and he spent time on the disabled list in July with back inflammation. The Yankees cannot expect him to be the workhorse of the staff.
In terms of stuff, Big Maple works primarily with a mid-90s fourseam fastball and a hard curveball. He also has a cutter and sinker that uses regularly. Paxton recently said he plans on incorporating a changeup into his repertoire beginning in 2019.
James Paxton intends to develop + throw more changeups next season.— Corey Brock (@CoreyBrockMLB) September 30, 2018
He plans to talk to Wade LeBlanc and Marco Gonzales about theirs.
The changeup would get hitters off the hard stuff, be good vs. RHH's.
"I'm getting excited about it," he said.
Sheffield, 22, ranked as the team’s top prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He pitched to a 2.56 ERA (3.13 FIP) with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He pitched in the Futures Game and had a cup of coffee at the big leaguer level in September. Questions linger about his future role, whether it’s in the rotation or bullpen due to his command. The Yankees originally acquired him from the Cleveland Indians in the Andrew Miller trade.
Meanwhile, Thompson-Williams hit .299/.363/.546 with a 157 wRC+ in 2018, but split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. The 23-year-old remains a long ways away. Swanson, on the other hand, ranked 22nd in the team’s to 30 prospects, but he most likely represents an organizational arm. He pitched to a 3.86 ERA (3.64 FIP) for the RailRiders.
Real quick, this sounds about right. You have to give to get, and Paxton has real big upside. Sheffield was fun to have, but give me the immediate sure thing in Big Maple any day.
UPDATE: Done deal — the trade’s official. Welcome to the Yankees, James Paxton!
Trade: The Yankees have acquired LHP James Paxton from Seattle in exchange for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson and OF Dom Thompson-Williams.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) November 19, 2018