Yankees claim AL East, home field; A’s to take on Tigers

44 Comments

By losing 4-1 to the Rays, the Orioles settled things in the American League playoff picture this evening. The Yankees will face the wild card winner, either the Orioles or Rangers, in one ALDS and the A’s will get the Tigers in the other.

The Orioles will travel to Texas to play a one-game playoff Friday. Joe Saunders and Yu Darvish are the expected starters.

The Yankees cruised past the Red Sox 14-2 in Wednesday’s finale, giving them the AL’s best record at 95-67. They’ll have home-field advantage until the World Series. The NL already secured home field in the World Series by winning the All-Star Game.

The AL West champion Athletics are the two-seed with 94 wins. The Orioles and Rangers both finished with 93 wins, but Texas had the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the head-to-head series 5-2.

The Yankees will begin their postseason in either Baltimore or Texas on Sunday, with CC Sabathia expected to start. The ALDS series this year will have the lower seed hosting the first two games, with the high seed going home for Games 3-5.

The A’s will play in Detroit on Saturday. Jarrod Parker or Brett Anderson could start that one against Justin Verlander.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
12 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.