Yankees: Miguel Andujar should be off limits in talks for James Paxton

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 31: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by Luis Severino #40 after he hit a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 31: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by Luis Severino #40 after he hit a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Yankees have reached out to the Seattle Mariners about a potential trade for left-handed starter James Paxton. Paxton would be a great addition to the Yanks starting rotation, however, if the cost to get him includes Miguel Andujar they should look elsewhere.

Right now it seems the discussions between the Yankees and Mariners regarding a Paxton trade are in the early stages. Whether or not Seattle would ask for Andujar in return has yet to come out, but if I’m Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto that’s who I’d start with. And if I’m Brian Cashman there’s no way in hell I’m giving up this year’s favorite for AL Rookie of the Year.

I know a lot of fans would be ok with trading Andujar for an ace because they figure that would open up a spot up for the team to then sign Manny Machado. In other cases, say in a deal for Corey Kluber it might make sense for the Yanks to offer Miggy. I hope they don’t include him in any trades but for Paxton especially it makes zero sense.

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Paxton is a very solid big league pitcher and even though he would certainly provide a big upgrade to the Yankees starting staff he’s not an ace by any means. In five full big league seasons, Paxton has good numbers but nothing about them should convince anyone into thinking he’s among the elite starters in baseball. Paxton is currently in the prime of his career but he’s also already 30 years old and yet over the course of his career his high for innings pitched in a season is only 160.1, this past season. The next best total for him was 136 in 2017.

The lack of innings aside, what makes Paxton such an attractive target for teams like the Yankees are his high strikeout and low walk totals which I will admit are quite impressive.

Career K’s per 9: 9.5

Career BB’s per 9: 2.6

2018 totals: 11.7 K’s per 9 and 2.4 BB’s per 9

In today’s era of baseball where strikeouts are at an all-time high Paxton is always going to put big K totals if he’s healthy. But that’s a huge IF.

Paxton has simply never been able to stay healthy consistently and over the past two seasons, he’s had a combined four DL stints. There’s no doubt Paxton is a front of the rotation type arm, but given his injury history the Yankees should be somewhat hesitant to give up Andujar or anyone of their top prospects for that matter.

Experience is also something Paxton lacks as his Mariners teams have been nothing but mediocre during his tenure. He’s never pitched in the postseason and he’s never really even pitched important games down the stretch in September. That’s not exactly his fault and I’m not saying Paxton couldn’t thrive in a Yankee uniform pitching in big games, but it is something for teams to consider before they offer a huge haul of prospects to acquire him.

The Yankees have seen a ton of big-name pitchers struggle after they came to New York so if they’re willing to offer a future All-Star like Andujar in a deal the guy coming back better be a sure thing. Paxton is good but based on his inability to stay healthy thus far in his career he’s anything but a sure thing.

Let’s also not forget that Andujar was a better player than Paxton last season and projects to be a cornerstone for this Yankee franchise for years to come. Sure his defense needs work but his bat is legit and the Yanks are going to need him in the middle of their order next season if they have any hopes of going all the way. Trading him for number two or three starter like Paxton would be a huge mistake because long-term Andujar is the player who’s going to have a bigger impact on his team on a year to year basis.

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Now if the Yankees could somehow get Paxton for someone like Estevan Florial and another mid to high-level pitching prospect like Chance Adams than that’s something they could pursue. However, if Seattle is looking for a guy like Justus Sheffield or Jonathan Loaisiga in addition to Andujar the Yanks should say no deal.

Sheffield and Loaisiga are the Yanks first and third best prospects respectively according to MLB Pipeline and both project to impact this year’s rotation if they’re given an opportunity. As much as I’d like to see the Yanks add two more front-line starters to next year’s staff I wouldn’t mind if they only settled for one and gave one of these young guns the fifth spot in next year’s rotation.

Since Paxton would have to be acquired via trade the Yankees could always try to get him next July around deadline time if he’s still there and they feel like their rotation needs help. But for now, they should focus on the free agent market and possibly signing Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ to fill those final spots in next year’s rotation.

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There’s less risk involved going that route as opposed to making a trade for someone as injury prone as Paxton. It’s nice to have prospects at your disposal to trade for a big-time starter, but I’d argue that for the Yankees they’re better off spending money instead. That way they get the starters they need to contend next season but also hold on to the prospects who could help them in the years to follow.