With just two years left on his contract, James Paxton was no longer a fit for the direction the Mariners are going in. As the offseason started to kick into high gear, rumors swirled around Paxton for a good week or so before the Mariners finally pulled the trigger and executed a deal centered around the 30-year-old Canadian southpaw with the New York Yankees.
Paxton, coming off a season in which he accrued a 3.8 fWAR in 160.1 innings, headlined a depleted Mariners rotation for the past two seasons and now slots right in the middle of a World Series contender. Perhaps the biggest winner of the deal is Paxton himself, being given the opportunity to pitch for a championship-caliber club rather than carrying the complete weight of a rotation.
As for the Mariners, they received one of the best pitching prospects in baseball with Justus Sheffield, who immediately comes in as the top prospect in their farm system. Sheffield may never reach the ace status that Paxton held in his time in Seattle, but could be a solid secondary or tertiary option in Seattle’s rotation for years to come.
The M’s also added right-handed pitching prospect Erik Swanson, who fits the Trevor Cahill mold of an above-average fourth or fifth starter, while also posing the potential as a late-inning reliever. Dom Thompson-Williams is an interesting piece, developing a significant amount of power last year to complement his above average glove in the outfield.
However, the additions of Swanson and Thompson-Williams are a bit on the light side and it would have been nice to get a bit more value on the back end, but that shows you just how valuable Sheffield was to the Mariners.