With the New York Yankees making the first big splash of the offseason by trading for James Paxton, they brought yet another Canadian to the Bronx.
Admit it. Before this offseason, probably about half of the New York Yankees fanbase had no clue who the lefty James Paxton was.
The casual fan had heard the name of the former Seattle Mariners pitcher and immediately thought of eagles, a no-hitter against Boston and Canada.
But below the surface, the Yankees got a solid starter to help shore up the rotation. The 30-year-old threw 160.1 innings while striking out 208 batters in the process. He also pitched two complete games last season alone.
Basically, the Yankees gave up Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Don Thompson-Williams for a starter who may have experienced numerous injuries but does enough to help the Yankees feel more comfortable competing with the Boston Red Sox.
So Paxton comes to the Bronx hailing from Canada. But did you know that he isn’t the first Canadian-born player to wear pinstripes? Let’s take a look at some of the memorable players from up north to be Yankees.
Russell Martin is a recent member of the New York Yankees, spending two seasons in pinstripes in 2011 and 2012 before taking his talents to Pittsburgh and then back to Canada with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Martin is perhaps the most memorable of all former Yankees who hail from Canada. Maybe because he was the most recent. However, he also made an impact during his time on the field in the Bronx.
Martin was the Yankees’ starting catcher in both 2011 and 2012. Over those two seasons, Martin posted a .224 with 39 home runs. This came at a time where the Yankees were trying to find a suitable replacement after Jorge Posada’s spent his 2011 season in the DH role.
While his numbers weren’t incredibly impressive, he still became a fan favorite in the Bronx. Now the Yankees face him multiple times a year against Toronto.
Here’s another blast from the not-so-distant past. Paul Quantrill spent a season and a half with the Yankees, all of which came in the relief role.
Quantrill was a bit of a journeyman before he landed in the Bronx in 2004. However, he seemed to be a bit overworked in pinstripes, putting together an 8-3 record in 108 games. His ERA of 5.23 sealed his fate, causing him to be designated for assignment.
Well, the hope was there when Quantrill arrived. Perhaps if Joe Torre managed Quantrill’s arm a little better, we might have seen the Quantrill that was dominant earlier in his career.
Now we go wayyyyy far back into the archives for this one. George Selkirk played his entire baseball career in the Bronx, starting in 1934. In his first full season in 1935, he took over for none other than Babe Ruth himself.
Selkirk put together a great career in pinstripes, playing for nine years and posting a .290 batting average. He didn’t hit moonshots quite like Ruth but he did get on base at an impressive clip (lifetime .400 OBP).
The two-time All-Star isn’t quite a household name but he is a part of Yankees history. Selkirk was born in Huntsville, Ontario and earned an induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Aaron Guiel spent the majority of his major league career with the Kansas City Royals but he did have a season where he was in the Bronx.
Guiel suited up in pinstripes for 44 games with a .256 batting average back in 2006. Guiel primarily split time between the outfield and first base, sprinkling in a few games at shortstop over his tenure.
Unfortunately, his time in the Bronx was short-lived, as he signed in 2007 to play in Japan with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Guiel finished out his baseball career in Japan, officially retiring in 2011.
Overall the history of Canadian ballplayers in the Bronx isn’t lengthy. However, there are certainly some memorable names. Now the Yankees have one more to add to the list in impressive lefty James Paxton.
We’ll see how Paxton fares in the Bronx but considering his competition, he has a pretty good chance to be the best Canadian-born player in New York Yankees history.