Terry Francona reaches 1,000 career managerial wins

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Red Sox skipper Terry Francona became one of just 57 managers to reach 1,000 career wins with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of the Mariners.

The 52-year-old began his managerial career in 1997 with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 285-363 over a four-year stretch that saw not a single postseason appearance. But he was hired by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and everything quickly changed.

Francona led the ’04 Red Sox to a 98-64 record and a World Series title, snapping an 86-year franchise drought. The ’05 Red Sox went 95-57, The ’06 Sox went 86-76, The ’07 Red Sox went 96-66 and won another World Series, the ’08 Sox went 95-67, the ’09 team went 95-67 and the 2010 club finished 89-73.

This season, the Red Sox hold the best record in the American League at 61-37.

Francona has been fortunate to manage teams that are loaded with talent, and he would freely admit that, but all the success has some in the media wondering whether Tito might eventually be headed for Cooperstown.

Here’s Rob Bradford of WEEI.com on Francona’s current resume:

What should be noted is that eight managers have won three World Series titles, with seven already residing in the Hall of Fame and one [Joe Torre] scheduled to arrived in just a few years.

Francona’s .532 winning percentage is fourth-best among active managers, with just Davey Johnson, Mike Scioscia and Tony LaRussa besting the mark. He is the eighth active skipper to reach 1,000 wins. But it is only LaRussa who carries what the Red Sox manager possesses — two World Series rings.

If a third title comes his way — which, as we sit here, appears to be a very real possibility — the man who seamlessly guided the Red Sox to their 61st victory Saturday night will be a Hall-of-Famer.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Francona told reporters on Sunday. “I really don’t. It’s really not that big of a deal. I’m appreciative of the opportunity I have because I really caught a break. This is a great organization with a lot of great players. I’m really fortunate. Other than that, I’d like to keep the perspective on the players.”

“If he was a pitcher, it’d be more impressive,” Josh Beckett joked after locking up Sunday’s victory. “It’s nice to win any time, but yeah, it’s nice to pitch in games like that — when they mean something to someone else.”

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.