A’s send Kevin Kouzmanoff to Triple-A, call up Scott Sizemore

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Last week, when the A’s acquired Scott Sizemore from the Tigers and optioned him to the minors, Matthew Pouliot speculated in this space that they’d turn to him at third base if Kevin Kouzmanoff continued to struggle.

Matthew guessed it would take another couple weeks for Kouzmanoff to lose the job, but the A’s just optioned him to Triple-A … and called up Sizemore.

Kouzmanoff posted good power numbers for the Padres despite playing half his games in the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark, but he’s hit just .240 with a .279 on-base percentage and .389 slugging percentage in 205 games since joining the A’s last season.

Oakland is a pitcher-friendly ballpark too, but managing just 23 homers in 743 at-bats is a surprise and Kouzmanoff has never had enough plate discipline to remain an asset if he’s not hitting for power. Sizemore has been even worse in the majors, hitting .223 with a .612 OPS for the Tigers, but that comes in a total of just 65 games and he’s hit .313 with 20 homers, 21 steals, and an .881 OPS in 179 games at Triple-A.

Oakland may try to trade Kouzmanoff, but his stock has likely dropped far enough that finding a taker for his $4.75 million salary will be tough.

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.