New York Yankees News/Rumors: James Paxton never recovered, Don Mattingly, Andrelton Simmons, and more

William Parlee
New York Yankees, James Paxton
Apr 16, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton (65) reacts during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

James Paxton never full recovered from back surgery

The New York Yankees did not offer pitcher James Paxton a qualifying offer to stay with the Yankees. He is just one of three free agents starters. On February 6th, the Yankees announced that Paxton would be out of action for three to four months after surgery to alleviate a herniated lumbar disc. With the dramatically shortened baseball season, it turned out that he didn’t miss any games at the start of the season.  But was he really healthy enough to pitch?

The New York Yankees and Paxton announced he was good to go. Paxton ended the season starting only five games and having a record of 1-1 and an elevated ERA of 6.64. When he was on the mound, his pitching told a different story than the positive comments. He had lost three or four miles per hour of fastball velocity. Paxton’s last game was on August 20th. He left a game with forearm soreness that was diagnosed as a flexor strain. Paxton never pitched another game, and that includes the postseason. With his injuries and poor play, the Yankees did not attempt to keep him in pinstripes.

Now Paxton’s manager Scott Boras is boasting that several teams are interested in Paxton. In a conversation with’s John Morosi, Boras may have let it out of the bag that Paxton wasn’t fully recovered from back surgery when pitching for the Yankees in 2020. Morosi made the following Tweet:

“Scott Boras told me today that free agent James Paxton is “close” to throwing for talent evaluators. He’s recently done additional strength training for his lumbar region, to more fully recover from February back surgery. “There’s a great deal of interest in him,” Boras said.

Even with the admission that Paxton’s lumbar region wasn’t fully up to strength due the back surgery while pitching for the Yankees this past season, it is doubtful that the New York Yankees will change their mind on Paxton, considering his injury history. Paxton was the second-best pitcher for the Yankees in the 2019 season.

Yankee great Don Mattingly is NL Manager of the Year!

For years “Donnie baseball” graced the New York Yankees Yankee Stadium. He was a true Yankees star for 14 years, earning an MVP, being a Gold Glover, and being a Silver Slugger and All-Star. Mattingly got every award that baseball issued. Mattingly’s back problems finally led him to leave the Yankees after the 1995 season.

After putting down his bat, Mattingly was a special instructor for the Yankees for several years. He became the Yankees bench coach replacing Lee Mazzelli. In 2007 the Yankees did not renew Joe Torre’s contract, and Mattingly became a candidate for manager, but the Yankee manager job was given to Joe Girardi. Torre moved on to manager the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Mattingly became his bench coach and eventually the Dodgers manager.

In 2016 after another Yankee great, Derek Jeter bought into the Miami Marlins; he enticed Mattingly to come to Florida and manage his new team. In Mattingly’s first years as Marlins manager, he had them win the most games in their history, and Don was 5th in the manager of the year voting. In this past coronavirus season, his Marlins had their first winning season. They went 31-29, and Mattingly got another award for his mantle, National League Manager of the Year.

New York Yankees look to solve shortstop: Andrelton Simmons

The New York Yankees have pitching problems they must solve, that have issues with Gary Sanchez, and they also would like to move Gleyber Torres back to his natural position at second base. Doing so means the Yankees must get a shortstop. With Francisco Lindor likely out of the picture due to cost, the Yankees are looking at all of their options, and one of them is Andrelton Simmons.

Simmons is an excellent defender, although not the greatest hitter. There is no question he would be a dramatic upgrade from Torres. However, for the Yankees, there are some problems, the most notably is Simmons history of ankle weakness, he has had three strains in the past two seasons. My guess is that the Yankee’s concerns about player injuries will shift them away from Simmons and toward the Athletic’s Marcus Semien.

Yankees DJ LeMahieu to reject qualifying offer today

DJ LeMahieu has today to accept or reject the Yankee’s qualifying offer of $18.9 million to stay in Yankee pinstripes for another year. The good money is on DJ rejecting that offer and testing the free-agent market. There are eight to ten teams that will be interested in LeMahieu driving up his cost.

The Yankees acquired the star player before the 2019 season for $24 million over two years. He has been everything the the Yankees could have asked for. Last year he was a Silver Slugger, and this year is in the running for AL MVP. He also won the batting title this year, becoming the only baseball player to win the award in both leagues.

The Yankees will most likely have to ante up $20 million a year and for several seasons to keep LeMahieu playing at Yankee Stadium. There is no guarantee that the Yankees will offer that much, but much more than that the Yankees could let him walk.