Red Sox put Kevin Youkilis on DL, call up Will Middlebrooks

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UPDATE: Still no word on the official roster move involved, but manager Bobby Valentine just said on WEEI radio that Middlebrooks will be in the starting lineup tonight.

UPDATE #2: Youkilis has been placed on the DL after saying he was at least 3-4 more days from being game ready, leaving Middlebrooks as the new starting third baseman.

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It’s unclear if he’ll be added to the active roster or is merely going to hang around as insurance in case Kevin Youkilis’ back injury proves serious, but Maureen Mullen of CSNNE.com reports that Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks is on his way to Fenway Park.

Middlebrooks has been on fire at Triple-A, hitting .333 with nine homers and a 1.057 OPS in 24 games after ranking No. 54 on Baseball America‘s list of top prospects coming into the season.

Youkilis has missed three consecutive games with back soreness, causing the Red Sox to call up slick-fielding, weak-hitting shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias from Triple-A yesterday for some infield depth. And now Middlebrooks is joining him in Boston, although it remains to be seen if the 23-year-old will actually be making his big-league debut.

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.