Former All-Star, Astros manager Grady Hatton Jr. dies at 90

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Grady Hatton Jr., who played in the majors from 1946-60 and later managed the Houston Astros, passed away Thursday from cancer-related causes, his daughter-in-law told the Beaumont Enterprise.

He was 90 years old.

Hatton, primarily a third baseman, had his best seasons right away after arriving in the majors with the Reds as a 23-year-old in 1946, hitting .271/.369/.422 with 14 homers and 69 RBI in 436 at-bats as a rookie and .281/.377/.448 with 16 homers and 77 RBI as a sophomore in 1947.

Those turned out to be the highest marks of his career, though he remained a solid regular through 1950. Ironically, his one All-Star Game came in 1952, his worst year as a starter. He ended up hitting .212/.319/.312 in 433 at-bats that year.

Hatton was essentially done at age 33, but he came back four years later in 1960 and hit .342 in 38 at-bats for the Cubs. He finished his career with a .254/.354/.374 line, 91 homers and 533 RBI in 4,206 at-bats.

After his playing career, Hatton spent time as a coach and manager. He managed the Astros for three seasons in 1966-68, going 164-221. Despite his poor record, he remained with the club  afterwards, first as a scout and then back on the field as a first-base coach.

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.