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Yankees acquire James Paxton: media reactions

Big Maple to the Big Apple has got the baseball world rocking.

Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

November isn’t usually a time for major MLB transactions, as the offseason tends to get going only after the Winter Meetings. However, such conventions evidently do not apply to resident ninja Brian Cashman and trigger-happy Jerry DiPoto. They collaborated to make the first major trade of the offseason yesterday evening, in which the Yankees received James Paxton from the Mariners for prospects Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams.

If you want to relive the excitement, here’s the tweet that broke the news, by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

There’s nothing quite like seeing “Source:” and “Yankees” in the same tweet. It’s one of the few times when I’m unabashedly grateful for Twitter being a thing.

As the details of the trade became clear, the takes started rolling in. Here’s found footage of Baseball Twitter post-trade:

On a more serious note, here’s an assessment of the trade by Michael Kay, who I have disagreed with on many occasions, but find to be entirely reasonable here.

Kay lays it down nicely: the Yankees needed two starting pitchers, and they got a really good one without making a significant financial commitment or giving up too much talent. Sure, Paxton is 30 with a reputation of being injury-prone, but that’s why the Yankees were able to nab him at the price they did. You know a trade is good when a PSA writer agrees with Michael Kay.

Another concise take on the transaction was offered by the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond, who outlined the best and worst-case scenarios for the Yankees.

That’s another simple, sensible take. The potential benefits here far outweigh the risks, and the Yankees can mitigate the impact of a Paxton DL trip by sticking to their offseason plan and signing another high-end starter. Eyes on the prize, Cash.

The sabermetrics commentariat were even higher on the Paxton trade, as the big lefty profiles well in just about every advanced pitching statistic. The following tweets issued in the wake of the trade illustrate this well.

Again, health is a concern, as evidenced by the fact that both of these tweets come with caveats concerning playing time. However, there’s no doubt that Paxton has been absolutely dominant when healthy. Plus, there’s reason to hope for a healthier Paxton in the future, but more on that later.

What of the prospects sent over to Seattle in the trade? Here’s what Baseball Prospect Twitter had to say about the package of Sheffield, Swanson and Thompson-Williams.

So the consensus seems to be that while Sheffield has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter, he comes with substantial risk due to his command issues, and neither Swanson nor Thompson-Williams project to be MLB regulars. If you can package three prospects like that for an arm of Paxton’s caliber, you do it every single time.

Finally, let’s hear what the players themselves had to say, starting with Justus Sheffield.

Okay, now I’m regretting the trade a bit. Sheffield might have been the best follow on the Yankees since Brandon McCarthy. Alas, now the Seattle faithful gets to enjoy his tweets. They never said good starting pitching would come cheap.

James Paxton, on the other hand, did not take to Twitter. However, he did appear on MLB Network Radio to talk about his reaction to the trade.

Paxton also participated in a conference call with MLB reporters around the league, and he had this to say about his health.

The veracity of latter part of that statement remains to be seen. However, Paxton’s telling the truth when he says that none of his injuries have been of the recurring type. Most importantly, he’s been free of scares regarding his shoulder or elbow ligaments. That doesn’t change the fact that he has a lengthy injury record, but it does mean that Paxton isn’t scary in the way that someone like Masahiro Tanaka is. Here’s hoping for a healthy 2019 from the Big Maple.

All told, there is a lot to like about the Paxton trade, even if you acknowledge the risk involved. Brian Cashman said that his target for the offseason was starting pitching, and he certainly delivered on that front with this transaction. Hopefully, this trade is a harbinger for more big signings for the Yankees this winter in their quest to field an even better roster than the 2018 squad. At any rate, the team is already substantially better with Paxton joining the top of the rotation with Luis Severino. I can’t wait for his first start in pinstripes.