It was hardly a secret that the Yankees needed starting pitching this winter. Their depth chart had a question mark at every rotation spot, and many members of the media, myself included, have assumed they'll pursue the top free-agent starter, Patrick Corbin. They struck early on the trade market by acquiring one of the best starters on that particular hot stove burner, James Paxton, but gave up their top pitching prospect to do so, along with another prospect with some real major league value.
The Yankees get two years of Paxton, and they seem to be acquiring him as he's reaching his peak: He has been worth 8.4 WAR, per Fangraphs, over 296 innings the past two seasons. It isn't unrealistic to think the Yankees can add five wins if they can get Paxton to make 30 starts next year. His fastball has averaged 94-96 mph the past three seasons, roughly the time when he has been an above-average or better starter, and he misses bats with it, pairing it with a cutter (kind of like a hard slider) and a big curveball that was supposed to be his out pitch when he was a prospect but hasn't been in the majors. He has also talked about using his changeup more in 2019, which would be interesting, though I'm not sure it is necessary for him to add a pitch. The Yankees needed rotation help, and they've clearly gotten some with Monday's trade.