Angels sign Ian Stewart to a minor league deal

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Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register is reporting that the Angels have signed infielder Ian Stewart to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Stewart has had a rough go of it on the field over the last few years, but found himself in hot water last June when he went on Twitter and complained about how the Cubs were using him.

Stewart posted a .464 OPS in 136 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2011. He also missed time with a wrist injury and moved back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A Colorado Springs a couple times. After the season, the Cubs signed him as a free agent, but Stewart posted a meager .627 OPS in 202 plate appearances. In June, he suffered a wrist injury and went under the knife in July, ending his season.

Last season, Stewart strained his quadriceps early in spring training and missed the start of the season with Triple-A Iowa. He posted just a .657 OPS at Triple-A with the Cubs. They released Stewart in early July after he went public with his criticism. The Dodgers picked him up, but the results weren’t any better. With Triple-A Albuquerque, Stewart posted a .638 OPS.

While Stewart has spent a majority of his career at third base, he has experience playing second base and he can play either outfield corner or first base in a pinch. On a no-risk deal, it’s difficult to see the downside for the Angels, even with Stewart’s questionable history in terms of health, production, and behavior.

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.