Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Mariners left-hander James Paxton is drawing considerable trade interest around the league, with the Astros and Yankees among the most interested in making a deal. While it’s not yet clear whether the Mariners intend to pursue a full-blown rebuild this offseason, dealing away one of their most valuable players (especially one on a fairly team-friendly contract) certainly points them in that direction.
Paxton, 30, is coming off of his sixth season with Seattle. He followed a career-best run in 2017 with another strong performance in 2018, turning in an 11-6 record in 28 starts with a 3.76 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 11.7 SO/9 through 160 1/3 innings. The left-hander also decorated his season with his first career no-hitter, a 99-pitch affair against the Blue Jays in which he issued just three walks en route to a 5-0 win.
Although 2018 wasn’t without its share of bumps and scrapes — Paxton missed over six weeks when he sustained a flare-up of lower back inflammation, then bruised his forearm on a line drive, then contracted pneumonia — he’s still expected to command a hefty return in any potential trade this winter. Both the Yankees and Astros are well-positioned to offer such a return for the lefty, and it’s no secret that the AL contenders have been looking to bolster their own rotations in advance of the 2019 season, too. Multiple reports suggest that the Yankees are in on every viable starter from Patrick Corbin to Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel, and Carlos Carrasco, while the Astros will seek to replenish a rotation that weathered the loss of Keuchel and Charlie Morton to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to Tommy John surgery.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.