The marquee free-agent starter on the market is the left-hander Patrick Corbin, who grew up in Clay, N.Y., outside Syracuse. Also available is J. A. Happ, who went 7-0 for the Yankees after arriving in a trade in late July but was rocked by the Red Sox in Game 1 of their American League division series.
The Mariners were willing to trade Paxton after once again failing to make the playoffs — Seattle has not reached the postseason since 2001. This month, General Manager Jerry Dipoto — who has acquired several Yankees prospects, including outfielder Ben Gamel and relievers James Pazos and Nick Rumbelow — said he was not rebuilding but retooling, trying to figure out a new way to compete in a competitive American League West.
“We don’t want to be trapped in perpetual mediocrity,” Dipoto said this month at the general managers’ meetings. “We’re trying to reimagine our roster. There has to be a different way.”
Along with Sheffield, the Mariners get a solid prospect in Swanson, 25, who was 8-2 with a 2.66 E.R.A. in Class AA and Class AAA this year, along with a speedy outfielder in Thompson-Williams, 23, who hit 22 homers in Class A.
The remaining question with Paxton — and any other pitcher the Yankees acquire — is how he takes to pitching in New York.
The Yankees thought they had beefed up their rotation during the 2017 season when they acquired Sonny Gray, an All-Star who had pitched well in the playoffs for Oakland. But Gray was dropped from the rotation, left off the playoff roster and booed frequently at Yankee Stadium. Cashman has pledged to trade Gray at some point this winter.
Paxton, though, has shown little indication of being ruffled on the mound.
While warming up for a game this season at Minnesota, an eagle that was taking part in a pregame ceremony landed on Paxton’s shoulder. If he was not spooked then, perhaps he’ll stand a decent chance in the Bronx.