Jarrod Saltalamacchia has until June

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One of the things I’ve been watching in the early going is who the scapegoat will be in Boston if things don’t turn around quick. The easy choice — and leader at the moment — is Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  He fits for so many reasons. He’s more or less unproven. He’s been given a starting job more or less by default. His backup is a fan favorite. As a catcher he’s a handy person to blame for both offensive woes (his own) and pitching woes due to his calling the game (even if the pitching stinks and the game is called from the dugout; no one said the scapegoat business is fair).

While the search for scapegoats can be nasty business, I’m kind of agnostic about it with a team like the Red Sox because they’re managed by smart people who tend not to overreact. If Salty is skewered, it will likely be after he’s had every reasonable shot to prove himself, not because the press and talk radio went nutty.  And based on Jon Heyman’s column today, that seems to be what’s happening:

A Red Sox person said they weren’t concerned yet about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went 0-for-10 with five strikeouts to open the season against his old team, the Rangers. Word is, he has until June to prove he belongs as the starting catcher.

That’s a pretty decent amount of time before a contender looks at other options.  In the meantime: get hitting, Salty.

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.