Red Sox Rumors: James Paxton Agrees to 1-Year, $10M Contract With Boston

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2021

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 06: James Paxton #44 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at T-Mobile Park on April 06, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox and starting pitcher James Paxton reportedly agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract in free agency Wednesday.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the contract also includes s two-year club option.

Paxton appeared in only one game last season for the Seattle Mariners before undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. Passan noted that Paxton is expected to be back some time during the 2022 season.

The 33-year-old lefty has spent seven of his nine MLB seasons in Seattle and experienced his greatest success with the M's.

From 2013 to 2018, Paxton went 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 617 strikeouts over 582.1 innings pitched.

Paxton seemed to be trending toward All-Star status and perhaps even Cy Young Award contention, which prompted the New York Yankees to send the Mariners three players, including starting pitcher Justus Sheffield, in exchange for Paxton in November 2018.

While Paxton had some up-and-down moments during the 2019 season in New York, he went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 186 strikeouts in 150.2 innings.

Hopes were high for Paxton entering the 2020 season, but a back injury limited him to just five starts and led to the Yankees allowing him to leave in free agency and go back to Seattle.

Injuries have limited Paxton to just six starts combined over the past two seasons, and he has long had durability issues.

Paxton has never made 30 or more starts in a season, and aside from 2018 and 2019 when he made 28 and 29 starts, respectively, his career-high in starts for a season is 24.

The Canadian southpaw's injury issues undoubtedly played a big role in the Red Sox being able to sign him at a relative bargain price when compared to top free-agent pitchers such as Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman and Robbie Ray.

Boston has not hesitated to go shopping for pitching in the bargain bin this offseason, as it signed Michael Wacha to a one-year, $7 million contract last week.

Starting pitching was Boston's biggest issue last season and likely the main reason it didn't advance beyond the American League Championship Series despite having a top-flight lineup.

Nathan Eovaldi was the ace last season with a 3.75 ERA, while Chris Sale had a 3.16 ERA in nine starts after returning from Tommy John surgery. However, the quartet of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards and Martin Perez all possessed an ERA of 4.50 or worse.

Paxton should be an improvement over most of last season's rotation if he can get healthy, but that has been a huge "if" for Paxton over the course of his career.