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The Yankees jump-start the offseason by trading for James Paxton

This was a pleasant surprise!

MLB: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After a boring couple of weeks, the Yankees finally made their first big move of the offseason! It sounded like Brian Cashman wanted to find Sonny Gray a new home before doing anything else, but he’s still a Yankee, and now James Paxton is too. The Yankees and Mariners have agreed to a deal that will send Justus Sheffield, Dom Thompson-Williams, and Erik Swanson to Seattle in exchange for the big southpaw.

This is great news for the Bombers, as the glaring weakness on the team for years now has been the rotation. They entered the offseason with just Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka guaranteed to return, then brought CC Sabathia back on a one-year deal. Paxton immediately makes the rotation so much better, and he won’t be a free agent until 2021.

Last year, starting pitching failed the Yankees time and time again. Jordan Montgomery went down with an injury early, Gray was ineffective, and their replacements (Domingo German, Luis Cessa) were even worse. After missing out on Gerrit Cole last winter, Brian Cashman couldn’t find any good starting pitchers at the deadline, and the team had to settle for J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn. Adding Paxton to the team is definitely the opposite of settling, and this is the most exciting starting pitching move that the Yankees have made since they signed Tanaka.

As for the prospects that the Yankees are losing, I’m amused that this news broke following my FanPost prompt asking which prospects should be kept off the table in trade discussions. Cashman obviously had no qualms about letting go of Sheffield for a big return. Like Brett Borzelli wrote last week, many of the talented prospects in the farm system are most valuable as trade chips.

It stings a bit to lose the team’s best prospect, but he likely wasn’t going to have much of an impact at the big-league level in 2019 anyway. Likewise, outfielder Thompson-Williams finished the season with High-A Tampa and was far from the majors. Swanson had a solid year in the minors, but there was no way that he was going to join the rotation. This was the right time to move these players.

Hopefully this trade is a sign of big things to come. They should concentrate on signing Patrick Corbin next, and prying away one of Cleveland’s pitchers would be an added bonus. Maybe make a run at one of the top infield free agents on the board, like Manny Machado. We still need some kind of solution at shortstop for Didi Gregorius. This is a great start though, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Do you think this means the Yankees are gearing up for a big offseason, or do you think this falls in with the idea that they may want to stay under the luxury tax threshold again?