The New York Yankees have acquired LHP James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson and OF Dom Thompson-Williams.
With J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn and C.C. Sabathia hitting free agency, plus Jordan Montgomery not expected to return from Tommy John surgery until June, the Yankees had three open rotation spots. They re-signed Sabathia, leaving them with two spots. They could have given one to top prospects Sheffield or Chance Adams, or failed trade acquisition Sonny Gray, but GM Brian Cashman stated that their plans where to trade Gray. So, they went out and traded for a big time starter in Paxton. Paxton has injury issues and has never pitched a full 162 inning season, but has been great the last few years. They give up their top prospect, Sheffield, for two years of Paxton, but it will be worth it if Paxton pitches even better in New York. Swanson is a prospect that they needed to put on their 40-man by tomorrow, but didn\’t have the space. Thompson-Williams is a prospect that looks like a throw-in.
Paxton, 30, had a 3.76 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 208 strikeouts in 160.1 innings in 2018. His best career season came in 2017, when he posted a 2.98 ERA, 2.61 FIP and 156 strikeouts in 136 innings. In his MLB career, all for the Mariners, Paxton has posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 617 strikeouts in 582.1 innings.
For the Mariners, it looks like they are starting over and aiming for 2021, which would be the 20th anniversary of their last postseason appearance. They get Sheffield, who could become the Mariners top starter by the time Paxton hits free agency. He was acquired by the Yankees from the Indians along with OF Clint Frazier and RHPs JP Feyereisen and Ben Heller in a 2016 trade deadline deal for LHP Andrew Miller. Swanson is a prospect coming off a breakout year in the minors. He was acquired from the Rangers along with RHPs Dillon Tate and Nick Green for OF Carlos Beltran, also in 2016. Thompson-Williams is an outfielder coming off a decent minor league season.
Sheffield, 22, allowed three runs in 2.2 innings (10.13 ERA), striking out none in a very short September MLB stint. Between AA Trenton and AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Sheffield had a 2.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 123 strikeouts in 116 innings in 2018.
Swanson, 25, posted a 2.66 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 139 strikeouts in 121.1 innings between Low-A Staten Island, Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His stint in Trenton was the most notable, as he displayed a 0.42 ERA in 42.2 innings.
Thompon-Williams, 23, had a .299 batting average, 22 home runs, 74 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 415 Plate Appearances between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa.
I think this trade is very hard to judge. The Yankees get a star, but the Mariners get a prospect that could be a star. So, you can\’t judge the trade now.