The Nats are honoring a former Expo. Should they?

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Personally, I like that the Nationals are honoring Andre Dawson tonight. The Expos are the Nats’ direct ancestor, and there’s no one else left around to honor the old warriors of Montreal.

But not everyone feels this way. Nats’ fan/blogger Chris Needham thinks that, with all due respect to the Expos’ legacy, the Nats need to embrace Washington baseball, not Montreal baseball:

Should the Nats honor their direct lineage? Or should they honor
their figurative fathers? Is Steve Rogers the greatest pitcher in
Washington Nationals history? Yes. At least if you’re a literalist.

There are no Montreal Expos anymore. Kaput. Neither are there
Seattle Pilots. Or St. Louis Browns. Or Boston Bees. Or Cleveland
Infants. Or any of about a bazillion-and-one former baseball teams.

Off to the dustbin of history they should go. Lets read about ’em in
books. The Nationals aren’t the Expos. The Orioles aren’t the Browns.
The Brewers aren’t the Pilots. Even if they’re all related.

Chris’ point is not to hate on the Expos, but to note that — as far as the fans are concerned — the local is what really matters. The Senators that became the Twins and the Rangers mean more to Washington baseball fans than they do to those in Minnesota and Dallas. By the same token, how are Nats’ fans supposed to react to a celebration of an Expos team that doesn’t mean all that much to them from a baseball perspective?

I’ll note that on some level this is a false dichotomy — with 81 home games a year and virtually unlimited ballpark space for plaques and flags and stuff, the Nats can easily honor both the Expos and the old Senators — but Chris’ overall point is a good one.

Baseball historians and Expos geeks will be happy to see Andre Dawson at Nats Park tonight. The common Washington baseball fan, however, will feel a greater connection to the Nats if they make a point to honor and promote the legacies of Frank Howard and Walter Johnson than those of Les Expos.

Because at the end of the day, all politics is local.

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.