Carlos Zambrano on demotion to bullpen: “It’s not my role, but I have to do it”

1 Comment

All things considered Carlos Zambrano reacted pretty well to the Marlins demoting him to the bullpen yesterday.

Not only didn’t he destroy any Gatorade coolers, his quotes about the situation were perfectly reasonable:

It’s not my role, but I have to do it. There is no other choice. If they put me in the bullpen, they put me in the bullpen. I have to keep doing my job, and keep trying to come back and being in the rotation again. The Cubs tried to do that to me, put me in the bullpen. It didn’t work. My arm is not built to be in the bullpen, but I have to do it. I’m at a stage in my career where I’ve been my whole life as a starter. But I have to do it. I will do it until somebody remembers me.

Zambrano saying that his arm “is not built to be in the bullpen” is interesting, because at first glance he seems like exactly the type of pitcher who might thrive as a reliever late in his career. He still throws hard, but poor control and a diminishing strikeout rate have combined to make him an ineffective starter. Working out of the bullpen tends to fix those problems for a lot of pitchers and while Zambrano’s durability as a starter was once enough of a strength that shifting him to a one-inning role didn’t make sense, that’s no longer the case either.

Dating back to the beginning of last season Zambrano has a 4.67 ERA and 187/123 K/BB ratio in 262 innings spread over 44 starts.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
35 Comments

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.