Paxton signed a one-year contract with the Yankees on Friday, avoiding arbitration. Paxton is the newest addition to New York's starting rotation, coming to the Yankees from Seattle in a mid-November trade. He's expected to slot in near the front end of the rotation to begin the 2019 season after posting a 3.76 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with a 208:42 K:BB over 160.1 frames last year with the Mariners.
Paxton was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees on Monday, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Seattle's return has yet to be announced, but well-regarded prospect Justus Sheffield is reportedly one of the big pieces included in the deal for the left-hander, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com. Paxton should slot in behind Luis Severino and help round out the Yankees' rotation for 2019. The 30-year-old has been fantastic when healthy over the past two seasons, posting a combined 3.40 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 11.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 over 296.1 innings (52 start) during that stretch.
Paxton intends to develop and increase the use of his changeup in 2019, partly by seeking advice from changeup throwers Wade LeBlanc and Marco Gonzales, Corey Brock of The Athletic reports. The left-hander, who spun a quality start in his season finale Saturday, wants to cultivate a pitch that will help his top-flight velocity play even more strongly and aid in retiring right-handed batters. While this could be dismissed as narrative, successful efforts to change a pitcher's approach, pitch mix or other attribute can lead to sustained progress if done correctly. Of course, although injury concerns will probably keep Paxton's price lower relative to other ace-type arms in many mixed-league drafts next spring, Paxton will remain a highly coveted starter.
Paxton allowed one earned runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out nine across six innings Saturday against the Rangers. He did not factor into the decision. Paxton threw 91 pitches in his final start of the season, and he pitched at least six innings for only the second time in his last six starts. Despite performing unevenly since the All-Star break, Paxton pitched a career-high 160.1 innings while also surpassing 200 strikeouts for the first time.
Paxton will start Saturday against the Rangers, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. The big left-hander will thus have a chance to make a second start after his bout with pneumonia, an outing that will qualify as a career-high 28th of the season. Paxton has worked 154.1 frames thus far, and his goal Saturday would be to get to at least 160 with an eye on hitting the 190-200 range in 2019. Paxton has generated a solid 11-6 record, 3.85 ERA and 1.10 WHIP while battling an assortment of injuries this season, and a win Saturday would equal the career-high 12 he managed in 2017.