James Paxton
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Report: Astros, Yankees interested in James Paxton

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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.

Octavio Dotel, Luis Castillo arrested in drug, money laundering investigation

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Five years ago, Octavio Dotel retired following a 15-year career in which he pitched for a then-record 13 different teams. I’m not exactly sure what he’s been up to since then, but I know that today he got arrested, as did former Marlins, Twins and Mets second baseman Luis Castillo.

That’s the report from Héctor Gómez, and from the Dominican Today, each of whom report that the two ex-big leaguers were arrested today in connection with a longstanding money laundering and/or drug investigation focused on one César Peralta. also known as “César the Abuser.” So he sounds fun. Gómez characterizes it as a money laundering thing. Reporter Dionisio Soldevila characterizes it as “drug trafficking charges.” Such charges often go hand-in-hand, of course. I’m sure more details will be come out eventually. For now we have the report of their arrests. According to the Dominican Today, four cars belonging to Dotel were confiscated as well.

Dotel didn’t debut until he was 25, and for his first couple of years with the Mets and Astros he struggled to establish himself as a starter. He was switched full-time to the Houston bullpen at 27, however, and went on to make 724 relief appearances with a 3.32 ERA and a .207 opponents’ batting average while racking up 955 strikeouts in 760 innings. At the time of his retirement his career strikeout rate — 10.8 per nine innings — was the best in the history of baseball for right-handed pitchers with at least 900 innings, edging out Kerry Wood and Pedro Martinez.

Castillo also played 15 seasons, with a career line of .290/.368/.351. He was a three-time All Star and won three Gold Glove awards.