New York Yankees: What kind of contract is James Paxton looking at during free agency?

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, James Paxton
Sep 14, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton (65) looks at his cap during the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

James Paxton is an extremely talented pitcher. He has a 3.58 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 753.1 career innings, with a very good 26.5 K%. When he’s on, he can be very dominant, and the New York Yankees know that. They were his team for the last two years. But now, the southpaw is set to test free agency.

Yet, there is a feeling that it may not be the best of times for him to enter the free agent market. Sure, there aren’t too many top arms out there, but teams usually like safer bets to stay healthy when they are going to splash the cash.

Between his age (32,) his extensive injury history, the fact that he showed diminished velocity in 2020, and the left flexor strain that led to his absence during the Yankees’ playoff run, chances are that he won’t score the lucrative multiyear deal he probably deserves.

Those are probably the reasons why the New York Yankees don’t seem in a hurry to bring him back for the 2021 season. According to reports, “Paxton is in line for a one-year deal in the $8-10 million range. Perhaps a team sweetens the offer with a second-year option that vests with a certain number of starts.”

He didn’t have a good season for the Yankees

Of course, Paxton’s agent Scott Boras recently said that “there’s a great deal of interest” in the left-hander. But what else is he supposed to say? He is coming off a 6.64 ERA in the shortened 2020 season. He lost several miles off his fastball to start the year, and just when he was starting to get some of his velo back and right the ship, he went down with an arm injury.

Rotoworld speculates that “Paxton might be open to accepting a one-year bounce-back type of free agent deal this winter. Or maybe there’s a strong enough market that he could score high-dollar multi-year offers.”

NBC Sports Philadelphia reports “there will be plenty of interest in Paxton but he’s more of a buy-low candidate given his rocky 2020 and long injury history. Of course, he’s also represented by Scott Boras, so Paxton’s next contract probably will not be too team-friendly.”

Perhaps he can get that multiyear deal after all. But let’s also keep in mind that teams are going with cost-effective moves these days more often than not, and Marcus Stroman recently took a one-year qualifying offer after seeing what was there for him in the market.

The Yankees, as always, should be monitoring his market.