The New York Yankees made the biggest splash of the offseason so far by trading three prospects to the Seattle Mariners for left-handed starting pitcher James Paxton on Monday.

The acquisition fills an important hole for the Yankees with J.A. Happ on the open market and Sonny Gray likely to be traded. But don’t expect the team to stop there. Acquiring Paxton should be the first of several moves designed to put the Bronx Bombers in position to challenge the Boston Red Sox. It’s just a question of whether New York will pursue a significant overhaul or look to add complementary pieces to its strong foundation.

Here is how the Paxton deal sets up the rest of the offseason for the Yankees.


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The rotation is in pretty good shape with Luis Severino, Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and maybe Domingo German or another young arm like Chance Adams or Jonathan Loaisiga. That uncertainty at fifth starter, however, suggests the Yankees’ work isn’t finished.

Paxton at least solidifies the front end of the rotation for the next two years. He’s under team control as he goes through arbitration, and he’s projected to earn $9 million in 2019, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

That’s roughly equivalent to Gray’s expected salary, and general manager Brian Cashman has already said he’d like to trade the right-hander. Gray’s reportedly attracted interest from the Reds and Athletics, among other teams. A Gray deal would likely attempt to address the farm system’s recent losses, so the Yankees would have to round out the rotation through free agency or another trade.

The team apparently indicated it may still sign Patrick Corbin or re-sign Happ, even after landing Paxton. Corbin has been linked to New York for an eternity, and he would make this the pitching staff to beat.

The main concern surrounding the current crop (and Corbin) is injury history. The knock on Paxton has always been durability – the 30-year-old tossed a career-high 160 1/3 innings in 2018. Tanaka’s spent several stints on the Yankees’ disabled list and Sabathia is pushing 40.

As for another trade, the surplus of warm bodies in the outfield makes Clint Frazier expendable no matter how disinclined Cashman is to deal him, and three potential partners make a ton of sense. The Cleveland Indians are expected to trade one of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, or Trevor Bauer. Kluber has the strongest track record and the Yankees could keep him through 2021 with a pair of team options.

Next, the San Francisco Giants could be persuaded to part with star southpaw Madison Bumgarner if the prospect haul is right. The 29-year-old’s also dealt with injuries in recent seasons, but they’ve often been the result of random chance rather than evidence that his body’s breaking down. He’s a free agent after 2019.

The Arizona Diamondbacks may be the best overall fit. The Yankees are looking to improve the rotation and their situation at first base, so why not jump into the Zack Greinke-Paul Goldschmidt sweepstakes? Greinke has $104.5 million left on his contract over the next three seasons, which could either reduce Arizona’s return or force the Diamondbacks to eat some of his salary. And getting Goldschmidt, although he’s a pending free agent, means the Yankees wouldn’t give Bryce Harper $30 million to play first base.


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The Yankees’ bullpen suffered significant losses in David Robertson and Zach Britton, but it’s still impressively deep with Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, and Tommy Kahnle. The relief corps simply may not be much of a concern relative to other areas on the roster.

New York could re-sign Robertson, but the team might want to go cheaper in order to address the rotation and infield. Last season, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Bud Norris to an affordable one-year deal and he became their closer. There’s little reason for the Yankees to splurge here.

That said, there’s long-term uncertainty surrounding the bullpen. Betances is a free agent after 2019, and Chapman’s landed on the disabled list in consecutive seasons with shoulder and knee issues. Adding a proven relief arm (think Adam Ottavino) could help stagger the Yankees’ expiring contracts and ensure an injury to a top contributor isn’t catastrophic.


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Even if they pry Goldschmidt away from the Diamondbacks, the Yankees have other infield issues to resolve.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius is recovering from Tommy John surgery, won’t be ready to play until at least July, and is a free agent at the end of next season. That’s created a lot of speculation about New York being a serious suitor for Manny Machado.

The Yankees reportedly discussed Jean Segura with the Mariners before deciding to focus on Paxton, a source told Jon Morosi of MLB Network. It’s not clear if they’re still interested, but acquiring him would rule out signing Machado. However, if the Yankees have given up on Segura and include Miguel Andujar in a trade for a top arm like Bumgarner, Kluber, or Greinke, bringing Machado back to the AL East could work.

Another option is shifting Gleyber Torres to shortstop and signing Daniel Murphy to hold down second base. Torres has lots of minor-league experience at the position, and Murphy can be a super-utility infield option.