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Mariners trade Paxton to Yankees

theScore logo theScore 2018-11-20 Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb
a man in a baseball uniform throwing a ball © Stephen Brashear / Getty Images Sport / Getty

"Big Maple" is headed to the Big Apple.

In the first blockbuster trade of this offseason, the Seattle Mariners dealt left-handed starter James Paxton to the New York Yankees on Monday, the team announced.

Left-hander Justus Sheffield, widely considered to be the Yankees' top prospect, was sent to Seattle along with outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams and right-hander Erik Swanson.

"I'm excited," Paxton told TSN Radio Vancouver shortly after the trade was announced. "I'm going to miss Seattle ... but I'm honored to have been called upon by the Yankees. I'm excited to go to a place that has the history, and the commitment to winning."

The Mariners' decision to deal Paxton, who emerged as their de facto ace in 2018, appears to signal that the team is ready to start rebuilding. General manager Jerry Dipoto hinted at this earlier in the month when he acknowledged that the front office was considering "re-imagining" their roster following another lost season.

Although the Mariners won 89 games in 2018, they still missed the playoffs for a 17th consecutive season, extending the longest active postseason drought in North America's four major professional sports.

Paxton emerged as one of the most highly coveted names on the trade market during the offseason's early stages. Multiple teams were said to have discussed him with the Mariners, including the Houston Astros - who apparently refused Seattle's request for top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley - and the Cincinnati Reds.

Paxton posted a 3.76 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 208 strikeouts over 28 starts in his sixth major-league campaign, and threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in May.

Although he also missed some time with a few injuries, including a back issue that flared up in July, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said they believe his health is "trending in the right direction," according to The Athletic's Lindsey Adler.

The 30-year-old Canadian has another two years of team control remaining and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $9 million in arbitration this season.

Sheffield, who was ranked as the Yankees' top prospect by MLB Pipeline before Monday, spent the majority of 2018 pitching at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 20 appearances (15 starts) for the RailRiders, the 22-year-old crafted a 2.56 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He made his major-league debut in September and got into three games as a reliever over the final two weeks of the regular season.

This is the second time that Sheffield has been involved in a blockbuster trade. New York acquired him from the Cleveland Indians at the 2016 non-waiver deadline as part of the return for reliever Andrew Miller.

Swanson, who the Yankees acquired from the Texas Rangers two years ago in the Carlos Beltran trade, primarily pitched at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2018. Over 121 2/3 total innings, he put up a 2.66 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 139 strikeouts, along with a complete game. The 25-year-old was ranked as the Yankees' 22nd-best prospect before the trade.

Thompson-Williams, who was not ranked among the Yankees' top 30 prospects, was their fifth-round draft choice in 2016. The 23-year-old hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 homers, 43 extra-base hits, 74 RBIs, and 102 strikeouts across 415 plate appearances - split between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa - in 2018. He also registered 20 stolen bases.

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