James Paxton To Red Sox? Whether Free Agent Pitcher Makes Sense For Boston

The oft-injured lefty still has loads of talent

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Will the Red Sox make a splash this offseason? Boston has financial flexibility and a strong desire to bounce back from a disappointing 2020. As such, we’ll examine whether several notable free agents make sense (or don’t make sense) as the club looks to retool for 2021 and beyond.

It wasn’t long ago that James Paxton was viewed as a frontline starter in the big leagues. If he could stay healthy, he still might be able to deliver that kind of performance for a contending team.

Could Paxton’s career crossroads lead him to Boston?

The Red Sox need a ton of pitching help, especially in the rotation. And Paxton, when healthy, has some of the most electrifying stuff of any left-handed starter in the game. He also has proven capable of handling the American League East spotlight.

But is he a slam-dunk option for the Red Sox? It’s complicated.

Let’s dive in.

Info:
Position: Starting pitcher
Age: 32 (Nov. 6, 1988)
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 227 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

2020 stats:
Five games (five starts)
1-1 record, 6.64 ERA, 26 strikeouts
1.47 WHIP, 4.37 FIP, 11.5 K/9,

Career stats:
136 games (136 starts)
57-33 record, 3.58 ERA, 829 strikeouts
1.21 WHIP, 3.31 FIP, 9.9 K/9

Why Paxton makes sense for Red Sox:
If Paxton had stayed on the career track he seemingly was on two years ago, he likely would be in line for a significant payday this offseason. You probably could have locked him in for roughly $100 million.

Instead, Paxton, 32, heads to free agency carrying a ton of question marks after a pair of mixed-bag seasons with the New York Yankees. As such, he might have to settle for a one-year, prove-it deal to rebuild his value.

In that case, the Red Sox might want to consider Paxton who, if everything clicks, could deliver ace-level performance for a team that desperately needs it. He could be Chris Sale lite until Sale eventually returns to game action.

Why Paxton doesn’t make sense for Red Sox:
The injuries.

Paxton’s healthiest stretch was 2017-18, and even then he only averaged 148 innings per season. He has dealt with injuries all over his body, including forearm strains, pectoral pains and back issues. At this point, there is no reason to believe Paxton can deliver more than 150 innings, let alone make it through an entire season.

He also experienced a velocity dip in 2020, something agent Scott Boras attributed to the Yankees rushing Paxton back from a back injury too quickly.

No matter which way you slice it, Paxton’s best days might be behind him.

Verdict: Not a fit.

Prediction: Paxton signs a two-year, $19 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images

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