Rosenthal on the Rangers: Sign ALL THE FREE AGENTS

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There isn’t a lot happening in free agent land yet. As Olney notes today, a big reason for that is the pending Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is likely to alter free agent draft pick compensation pretty substantially, thereby changing the overall value/cost of a big name free agent.

Thank goodness for folks playing the “what if” game, then, because we need some sort of creativity around this sport until we complain about awards votes next week. Ken Rosenthal is playing it in his latest column, with specific reference to the Rangers:

The Rangers need to change the conversation … I’m talking about spring training, when the team will want to move past its crushing Series defeat. I’m talking about finding a new direction, a new energy, a newraison d’etre. I’m talking about doing something big — something so big, the players will regain their swagger and re-emerge as one of the favorites in the American League.

He thinks the Rangers should go after Prince Fielder. And Mark Buehrle. And one of the top closers like Heath Bell. He acknowledges that it would be crazy-expensive to do that sort of thing but thinks it’s worth it to shake things up.

I like the idea of Buehrle because I think the Rangers could use some rotation bolstering, but going after one of the big first baseman and a closer seems a bit much.  They still have the three-headed Napoli/Young/Moreland monster at first base to deal with. They have a fantastic bullpen already, its World Series shortcomings being a matter of fatigue, not lack of talent.

Mostly, though, I see a team that won its division by ten games. And which doesn’t look to be any worse next year. And whose competition isn’t likely to be any better.  And a team who, if Nelson Cruz didn’t feel the wall looming in Game 6, would have won the World Series.

The Rangers doesn’t seem like a candidate for a tone-change. Just some better luck and another crack at it next year.

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.