The Yankees have something special going on this season. The club owns a 30 - 13 record and has played stellar baseball for the last month or so. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. The rotation, of course, stands out as the area in most need of an upgrade. The staff contains far more question marks than sure things. Reinforcements would help.
Meanwhile, the Mariners have some tough decisions to make. Seattle sits two games behind the Astros in the AL West, but can they really hold off the Angels? That task just got a lot tougher in the wake of the Robinson Cano injury and suspension. They have an uphill battle to reach the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Should things fall apart in Seattle, the Mariners have to seriously consider selling at the trade deadline. By most accounts, the organization fields the worst farm system in baseball. They desperately need to infuse impact talent into their pipeline. To do that, Joel Sherman suggests putting James Paxton on the market. If Jerry Dipoto and company decides to shop their ace, the Yankees should be all in.
Paxton, 29, has came into his own as a frontline starter. The left-hander has pitched to a 3.30 ERA across 62.2 innings so far in 2018. His peripherals are even better, as he owns a 3.08 FIP and a ridiculous 11.35 K/9 rate. While he emerged as one of the league’s best pitchers last season, his no-hitter against the Blue Jays on May 8th of this year put him on the map.
Even better, Big Maple isn’t eligible to hit free agency until 2021. A controllable left-handed starter who throws hard and misses bats? That’s the ideal pitcher for the Yankees. You couldn’t dream up a better trade target.
How should a team value Paxton? On the one hand, he’s pitched like a bonafide ace for two seasons now. He also comes with top prospect pedigree. Nobody doubts how talented he is. That said, he has a lengthy injury history. He set a career high in innings pitched last season with 136. The best indicator of future health is, of course, past health, and Paxton has trouble staying on the field. Any team interested in acquiring him knows they wouldn’t be getting a workhorse. Could the Sonny Gray trade provide a framework? Maybe! I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if Paxton’s price tag exceeds that.
It’s worth noting that the Yankees have long had their eye on the southpaw. It was just three years ago that the Bombers and Mariners engaged in discussions over the left-hander. Sherman reported that the talks revolved around a Brett Gardner for Paxton swap. If the interest existed then, it figures to remain today.
While there are no signs that the Mariners will be open for business, it’s a situaiton worth monitoring. Paxton has emerged as an ace, and he would anchor a somewhat questionable Yankees’ rotation. His price may be high, but New York has the prospects to get a deal done. It’s still too early to effectively assess the trade market, but consider this a head start. Keep Big Maple in the back of your mind.