Without Eduardo Rodriguez, who departed to the Detroit Tigers, their rotation is missing a high-upside lefty stopper. Ahead of the impending lockout, Boston addressed the deficiency with an ex-Yankee, but in a way that plays off upside alone.
If this isn’t their last attempt to patch up the rotation, then Boston fans will be fine to keep bragging (and they didn’t need me to tell them that). But with a several-month gap between maneuvers incoming, things could get uncomfortable before any resolutions arrive.
James Paxton signed on with the Sox on the Corey Kluber Contract late Tuesday night, assuring himself $10 million with a club option for Year 2.
Coming off Tommy John surgery (announced on April 28), Paxton will likely not pitch at all until the tail end of the season. In fact, he may not pitch at all in 2022. Based on his injury history, would anyone be surprised if the TJ adjustment took him through September?
Therefore, there’s an extremely likely scenario where Paxton doesn’t pitch at all until his club option must be picked up, at which point the Sox will have to decide whether they’d like to further reward a pitcher entering his “rehab year” of erratic command and regained velocity on the fly. This is, of course, not to mention that prior to having Tommy John, Paxton had already gone through basically every other injury issue you could imagine. Is that really your idea of a good “punk,” Boston?
James Paxton injury history with Yankees and beyond
Paxton’s injury history is almost impossible to believe, for a fan who’s never dealt with him before.
Can Paxton dominate? On any given day, yes. His upper-90s fastball and wipeout breaker (pre-TJ) were devastating and extremely controllable when he was on. However … there’s something in Paxton’s genetics or motion that seemingly leads to an inevitable breakdown, in many different and unrelated manners.
Before the 2020 season, Paxton had a cyst removed from his back that delayed his arrival in his second season with the Bombers. By the time the shortened season started, his velocity had very much diminished, and he eventually hit the shelf with his first-ever elbow issue … which, by the next season, had officially become a UCL tear many feared the previous summer.
In 2019, it was the knee (one month gone). In 2018, the back. In 2017, a strained pec. 2015? A strained tendon in his throwing hand.
All dings, pulls, wrenches and strains without a surgery to his name before 2020, but things are obviously trending downward.
In the best-case scenario, Paxton is a short-term weapon down the stretch for the 2022 Red Sox, leading to him being brought back for a fully-healthy season on a 2023 discount. Everything Chaim Bloom touches seems to be gold, so this could very well happen.
Even in that best-case scenario, though, Bloom out-spent the competition to almost certainly not fill his major, lefty-sized rotation hole in 2021. Yankees fans shouldn’t be shedding too many tears over this minor betrayal.