The Rangers deal is not a done deal

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Sure, Greenberg and Ryan have made a deal with Hicks, but they’re not the only ones that matter.  According to Sports Business Journal, a hedge fund called Monarch Alternative Capital — which came in late in the game and bought up a bunch of Hicks Sports’ Group’s debt when they nearly defaulted on their obligations last summer — has yet to sign off. And they may not, because they think that Hicks passed up a better offer: from Houston businessman Jim Crane.

SBJ is saying that Monarch is “unlikely” to scuttle the deal, but that it has a reputation for “going to the mat” for the last dollar.  They’re also none too pleased with the fact that Hicks is still going to end up owning part of the team post-sale, making
him a buyer and a seller.

Because Monarch is essentially a debt vulture, it may not get much sympathy from the banks and everyone who matters here on the pure dollars of it all. But I continue to think that they have an excellent point regarding Hicks being on both sides of the deal. That has stunk to me from the get-go, and I have no idea why, if there were better offers than Greenberg’s, his partners in Hicks’ Sports Group and others haven’t raised a stink about it. 

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.