The Yanks wanted to add two starting pitchers this offseason (and subtract one, in Sonny Gray) besides re-signing CC Sabathia.
Step one has been accomplished. The Yanks traded top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, along with P Erik Swanson and OF Dom Thompson-Williams, to Seattle for lefty starter James Paxton.
Paxton, 30, is a Canadian who threw a no-hitter against Toronto last May. While talented, he has had trouble staying healthy. In 2018, he started 28 games, the most of his career, and pitched 160 1/3 innings, also the most of his career, in going 11-6, 3.76, ERA+ 108. In those 160 1/3 innings, he struck out 208.
In the past five seasons, he has started 13-13-20-24-28 games. A progression, but you can see the injury issues. His IP have been 74-67-121-136 and 160.3. When healthy, he has been good, ERAs of 3.04, 3.90, 3.79, 2.98 and 3.76.
Last season, he led the majors in CG (2) and shutouts (1). His MLB record is 41-26, 3.42, ERA+ 117. The ERAs show potential. He needs to stay healthy. His 162 g. average, if healthy, is 14-9, 3.42, with that ERA+ of 117. In four starts against Boston, he is 2-0, 2.49.
Paxton is extremely affordable, having made $4.9MM in 2018 and is projected to earn $9MM in 2019. He isn’t a free agent until after 2020.
To get him, the Yanks gave up top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, LHP, 22, who in a brief MLB tryout last year was 0-0, 10.13 in three games. He spent most of 2018 at AAA SWB, starting 15 games and relieving in 5 more, going 6-4. 2.56. He also started 5 games for AA Trenton, going 1-2, 2.25. (7-6, 2.48 overall in the minors). He probably would have started 2019 at AAA, and being “on call” in case of an injury.
Also going to Seattle was P Erik Swanson, who is 25, a RHP, who was 8-2, 2.66 between AAA SWB, AA Trenton and short season Staten Island in 2018. 22 starts, 2 relief appearances.
OF Dom Thompson-Williams is also headed to Seattle. A lefty hitter, 23, he spent 2018 between Low A Charleston and High A Tampa, going .299-22-74 in 100 games, with 20 SB.
Step one is getting Paxton. Step two is getting another starter, even BETTER than Paxton. Patrick Corbin? Bring back Happ? Dallas Keuchel?