Soria optimistic about Royals’ future, expects to stay

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Staff ace Zack Greinke voiced concerns back in August about the Royals’ current rebuilding strategy, telling the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton that he’s not “excited” about the club’s crop of youngsters “because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact” during the duration of his contract is “pretty slim.”  Not all longtime Royals share Zack’s feelings.

Dutton spoke Thursday with All-Star closer Joakim Soria, who is perfectly content with his situation and pleased with the strides that the Royals have made in the draft and down on the farm.

“I’m still young,” Soria said, “and I think I’m a piece of what they want to do with this team. I think it’s a good idea to rebuild the team, and they’ve been doing great work with the minor-league system.”
Soria, 26, turned in a fantastic 1.78 ERA and 1.05 WHIP this past season while also converting 43 saves in 46 chances.  He has major trade value as one of baseball’s top closers, but the Royals control him through 2014 and aren’t likely to part ways with the righty until they absolutely have to.

Report: Yankees acquire James Paxton from the Mariners

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Yankees have acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Corey Brock of The Athletic reports that the Mariners will be receiving three prospects from the Yankees: 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 good return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worry 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. The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.