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Mariners trade James Paxton to Yankees for Justus Sheffield, P Erik Swanson, OF Dom Thompson-Williams

The trade finally comes, and unsurprisingly it is a mixed bag.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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The trade is here, the trade is live.

The deal is, at its core, as expected. It’s centered around LHP Justus Sheffield, a 22-year-old LHP with great potential who will open the season in the starting rotation and is under team control through 2024. Jerry Dipoto, as you might imagine, is enthused:

Since I just wrote 2000 words on the Yankees system, many of which described Sheffield, I won’t rehash too much. He’s a lefty with velocity in the 92-97 range and good secondaries. He’s 5’10 and thick, with explosive stuff that also looks explosive when he throws it, for better or worse. Still, he’s only had two DL stints in the minors, neither with any length. Sheffield will have plenty of time to work things out for Seattle in 2019, where the team looks all the more certain to be casting their gaze towards 2020 and 2021.

The other players the Mariners targeted seem to echo this. RHP Erik Swanson was not included in my list of pile options in my proposal earlier today because I focused on slightly further-off options with higher ceilings to fill out the deal. That doesn’t make Swanson a nobody—MLB Pipeline lists him as the Yankees 22nd overall prospect—but he is further from being a prospect than some of the spicier options Seattle perhaps could’ve chosen (I’ll never forget you, Deivi Garcia). Swanson, who I have typed as “Erik Hanson” multiple times before deleting it, is a 6’3, 245 lbs RHP with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a slider and cutter that each live in the mid-80s. Courtesy of new Blue Jays front office member Carson Cistulli, here’s Hanson Swanson making Rafael Devers look bad with a seemingly high-spin fastball.

Hanson Swanson has the type of numbers you’d love to see from a pitcher in the high minors, including a K% bordering on 30% between AA and AA in 2018. Unfortunately, injuries have slowed his development, including missing all of 2015. Fortunately, most recently a strained groin was his main issue in lieu of more dramatic arm troubles. He was Rule-5 draft eligible, making him all the more expendable to the Yankees. It’s not unthinkable that Swanson begins 2019 in the rotation as well, and if Seattle is able to cultivate a Mike Leake-like innings-eating No. 4 starter as is reasonable to think, there’s plenty to like. The feelings on Swanson are VERY mixed, however, as this exchange from FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel shows.


Meanwhile, as recently as August 9th, 2018, after seeing Swanson dominate in AAA, Kevin Carter of Baseball Prospectus was far more effusive:

If Erik Swanson isn’t a name in your head at this point, jot him down now. The 24-year-old was perhaps the most under-reported piece in the Carlos Beltran–for-Dillon Tate trade, but also might be the best pitcher to go in that deal.

We’ll see. Lastly, OF Dom Thompson-Williams, whose shortened official first name was a blessing for fitting the title of this article. DTW, as he will now be referred to, is a late bloomer, it seems, with a Jake Fraley-like explosion as an older prospect in High-A. The power came in spades this year, as the speedy DTW cracked 17 homers and ran a .227 ISO in the Florida State League. Interestingly, he and Swanson were teammates at Iowa Western Community College. DTW will likely begin the season in Double-A Arkansas in an outfield with Jake Fraley and Kyle Lewis, all of whom have the ability to play center field. There is a sense that the tools for above-average production are there, which is always easier when you have the speed and arm for center field. A high K% (25.3%) in High-A is a red flag for future excellence, however, as he’ll need to show the contact and power can sustain against tougher pitching.

This deal also comes with a clearer statement of purpose from GM Jerry Dipoto...

...and a sentiment that more selling moves are to come... well as a new payroll estimate...

...and a hinted reunion?

Maybe just let Mariners fans sit with this one for awhile, Jerry. We’ve kind of been through a lot lately.