No one wants to win the AL Central

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The White Sox lost their fifth in a row Sunday to the Angels, giving the Tigers a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AL Central even after they were routed by the Twins in the first game of a doubleheader. How did they respond? By losing the nightcap 2-1 in 10 innings.

Here are the second-half records of the AL Central teams:

Tigers: 36-30 – .545
White Sox: 34-33 – .507
Royals: 33-35 – .485
Twins: 28-40 – .412
Indians: 19-49 – .279

And the September records:

Royals: 11-11
Twins: 11-11
Tigers: 10-11
White Sox: 9-12
Indians: 8-13

The White Sox have received plenty of positive press for their surprising success under first-time manager Robin Ventura, but they’re probably the AL’s seventh or eighth best team.

As for the Tigers, well, they’ve been a disappointment pretty much all year long. They did play better ball in July and August, but they’ve stumbled again of late and they’d be on the verge of being ousted from the race if the White Sox hadn’t forgotten how to hit over the last week.

Both teams have 10 games left. The White Sox get the Indians for four and the Rays for three at home before finishing with three in Cleveland. The Tigers play four at home against the Royals and then finish on the road with three in Minnesota and three in Kansas City.

That’d seem to be advantage Chicago. Cleveland has played the worse of all of those teams, and the White Sox have the three extra home games. Still, with the way things have gone of late, it’s doubtful either team will run away with it.

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.