Rafael Soriano hires Scott Boras

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Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that Rafael Soriano has hired Scott Boras as his agent.

It was probably a forgone conclusion that Soriano was going to leave via free agency anyway, but this likely seals it, seeing as though guys don’t usually hire Boras to negotiate their creative, incentive-laden, keep-me-with-my-current-team deals.

The Rays certainly got great use out of him. Hoping to grab a draft pick, the Braves offered Soriano arbitration last winter, only to have him accept it. After bringing in Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, however, Atlanta wasn’t about to pay Soriano $7 million, so they traded him to Tampa Bay for baubles and trinkets. All he’s done for the Rays is post a  1.76
ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and notch 44 saves in 47 chances this season.

Soriano has been one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball over the past five years. Yes, there’s a lot of mileage on that arm of his, but he’ll likely get a nice payday all the same.

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.