Cincinnati Reds: What might it take to land James Paxton in a trade?

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 04: James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 4, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 04: James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 4, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds hot stove is already smoking this off-season with potential trade and free agent signing possibilities. Today we explore what it might take to bring Mariners left-handed starter James Paxton to the Queen City.

The Cincinnati Reds have been linked to many trade rumors of late. One of the most recent rumors surrounds the Reds interest in Seattle Mariners’ lefty James Paxton. Who would the Reds be willing to part with in order to land one of the premier pitchers in the American League?

Following Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto’s statement earlier this month about the club potentially pursuing a partial rebuild the one name that has garnered the most attention is starting pitcher James Paxton.  And for good reason.

Since making his debut in 2013 the 6’4″, 235-pound left-hander has compiled an impressive resumè.  Paxton has amassed a 41-26 record while sporting a 3.42 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.  The 2017 campaign saw him post a 143 ERA+.

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He would also be the southpaw the Reds starting rotation so desperately needs. Considering the Reds play in a division featuring the likes of the Brewers reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, the Cubs Anthony Rizzo, and the Cardinals Matt Carpenter having a left-handed starter to help neutralize these left-handed hitting sluggers is essential.

Even more intriguing is Paxton is still under team control contract wise until following the 2020 season. As you can imagine the number of suitors for Paxton’s service is many according to The Athletics Ken Rosenthal.

In order for the Reds to make a serious run for James Paxton, they’ll be competing against the big boys.  The old adage goes if you want something you’re going to have to give up something.   Believe me, it’s going to cause Cincinnati Reds fans some pain.

If I’m the Mariners front office the one player I would insist on coming over is outfielder Jesse Winker.  The Mariners were below league average in on-base percentage this past season and Winker is an on-base machine.

During the 2018 season, Winker hit .299 and posted a .405 OBP.  In all honesty, Winker’s skill set is probably more favorable to the American League.  Winker is a below average defender and lacks speed.  His playing time in the Pacific Northwest could be divided between the outfield and designated hitter roles.  Furthermore, he is only 25 years old and under club control for another five seasons.

With Winker as the centerpiece of a potential deal who else can the Reds add to intrigue the Mariners?  How about right-handed hurler Sal Romano.  The 25-year-old spent the entire 2018 seasons with the Reds following his major league debut during the 2017 campaign.

Romano started 25 games and appeared in 39 this past season.  At this point in his career, he projects to be a backend of the rotation starter or a long man in the bullpen.  Like Winker, he won’t be eligible for free agency until the 2024 season.

Unfortunately, for the Reds, Winker and Romano alone won’t bring James Paxton to Cincinnati.  However, they do have one of the best farm systems in the majors and they will have to part with one of those assets.  Considering the Mariners just dealt their starting catcher Mike Zunino to the Rays a future backstop is an obvious need.

Even though he’s not projected to make his debut until the 2020 season catcher Tyler Stephenson could be an interesting lottery ticket for Seattle.  According to MLB Pipeline, the 22-year-old Stephenson is currently the No. 6 ranked prospect in the Reds system and the No. 10 catching prospect in the minors.

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Acquiring Paxton would immediately make him the ace of a Cincinnati Reds pitching staff that ranked near the bottom in the National League.  It won’t be easy to bring him to the Queen City, but the image of Paxton taking the mound on Opening Day at Great American Ball Park would be a sight for sore eyes.