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Free Agent Profile: Canadian James Paxton is again a free agent after working back from Tommy John surgery

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Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
Might this be the year that Big Maple heads to Canada?
This is a free agent profile, where we take a look at the players on the open market this winter and whether or not they would be fits for the Blue Jays. In this article, we’re going to take a look at James Paxton, who’s back on the open market after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

James Paxton’s 2023:

Paxton tossed 96 innings for the Red Sox in 2023 after being limited to just six big-league appearances between 2020 and 2022. He underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2021 and signed a two-year contract with the Boston Red Sox for 2022 and 2023 with the expectation he would be ready at some point during the latter season. 
The 34-year-old left-handed pitcher to game action with the Red Sox in May and 96 posted a 4.50 ERA and a 4.68 FIP along with a 24.6 K% and an 8 BB% across 19 starts. His best start came when he shut the Blue Jays out over seven-and-two-thirds innings on the day before Canada Day. 
For his career, the Richmond, British Columbia native has a 3.69 ERA and a  3.46 FIP in 850 innings pitched, along with a 26.3 K% and a 7.5 BB%. Paxton’s best season came in 2017, when he posted a 2.98 ERA and a 2.61 FIP in 136 innings pitched while with the Seattle Mariner. A season later, Paxton threw a no-hitter on May 8, 2018 on his home soil against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

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James Paxton’s contract:

According to Jim Bowden’s contract predictions article from The Athletic, Paxton ranks as his 39th-best free agent out of 40. Bowden predicts that Paxton will make a one-year, $8 million deal with performance incentives because of his injury background. MLB Trade Rumours, meanwhile, doesn’t have Paxton listed as one of their top 50 free agents. 
Paxton signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Mariners in free agency ahead of the 2022 season, and his two-year Tommy John recovery contract with the Red Sox was worth $10 million in total, broken down into $6 and $4 million seasons.
The last time Paxton was on the open market, the Blue Jays showed interest but he wound up taking the aforementioned contract in Boston.

Is James Paxton a fit for the Blue Jays:

The Blue Jays selected Paxton in the first round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Kentucky but he didn’t sign with the club. After a year of playing independent ball in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Paxton was drafted by the Mariners.
Toronto will have some competition for the fifth starter’s spot in the rotation. Alek Manoah appears to be leading the pack, but Mitch White was just recently added back to the 40-man roster, and Bowden Francis pitched incredibly well in 2023, so the Blue Jays have internal options.
That being said, any back-end starter who signs with the Jays must know that a spot on the roster isn’t guaranteed. If this were a year sooner, I’m sure Paxton would be under consideration and also considering a contract to return to Canada, but it may make little sense for both parties unless Manoah is traded.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

Previously…


ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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