Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to be available in Rule 5 draft

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The Yankees added 2B David Adams, OF Zoilo Almonte, INF Corban Joseph, RHP D.J. Mitchell and RHP David Phelps to the 40-man roster prior to Friday’s deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, but they left switch-pitcher Pat Venditte off the list, making him eligible to be picked on Dec. 8.

It will be interesting to see if anyone grabs Venditte. The Yankees selected the ambidextrous pitcher out of Creighton in the 20th round of the 2008 draft, and he’s had a stellar minor league career to date. In 2010, he had a 1.73 ERA and an 85/14 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings in the Florida State League. Last season, he had a 3.40 ERA and an 88/31 K/BB ratio in 90 innings for Double-A Trenton.

The Yankees, though, made it pretty obvious through their actions that they never viewed him as a potential major leaguer. He was initially a closer in the minors, but the Yankees took him out of that role and treated him as a middle reliever beginning in 2010. They also brought him along ridiculously slowly; Venditte, who turned 26 in June, should have been challenged with Double-A in 2010 and Triple-A last season.

Because he possesses below average fastballs with both arms, Venditte, who uses a six-fingered glove on the mound, is more of a curiosity than a prospect. Still, some team may want to take a look at him next spring. It’d be fun to see him try to frustrate some major league switch-hitters.

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.