Should the Yankees regret the James Paxton-Justus Sheffield trade?
Outside of Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees starting rotation has been an unmitigated disaster, logging a ghastly 7.50 ERA through a combined nine starts. However, when you consider the expectations, the start to James Paxton’s campaign has been the most concerning.
In four starts since being cleared to return from back surgery, the 31-year-old southpaw is 1-1 with a dreadful 7.04 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. It pains us to admit it, but Paxton is a shell of the big-game pitcher he was in his debut season in the Bronx when he notched 15 wins and over 180 strikeouts in 150.2 innings of work.
His velocity is showing signs of improvement, but moral victories is not what fans expected when the Yankees unloaded pitching prospect Justus Sheffield to Seattle for his services in November of 2018. In fact, it might be time for Yankees fans to start wondering if it was the right move to trade the promising young left-hander, who was brilliant in his latest start for the Mariners.
This open-ended question obviously isn’t based off one good start from Sheffield. Truth be told, the 24-year-old has struggled early on at the big league level, compiling a 5.68 ERA across 14 appearances (10 starts). However, it still goes without saying that he has potential to be a dangerous arm.
The Yankees clearly have an abundance of pitching riches in their farm system, but if Paxton doesn’t find consistency, or the ability to stay healthy for a full season, the trade might be viewed as a mistake for general manager Brian Cashman if Sheffield pans out this year and beyond.
As great as Paxton was in the postseason last October — he recorded a 2.16 ERA in two starts agains Houston in the ALCS — it didn’t lead to a championship. The last time we checked, the Yankees have been spending big on their rotation with the hope of ending their World Series drought.
That obviously all isn’t on Paxton’s shoulders, but if his form doesn’t improve before the end of the season and New York doesn’t re-sign him in free agency, fans in the Bronx can absolutely question if it was the right call to trade away Sheffield.
Fair or not, they should expect a lot more from a hurler earning $12.5 million that cost the club one of its top overall prospects.